Directed by: Julie Bertuccelli
Written by: Judy Pascoe, Julie Bertuccelli, Elizabeth J Mars
Produced by: Sue Taylor, Yael Fogiel
Starring: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Morgana Davies. Marton Csokas
Run Time: 100 minutes
The Tree is like going to a friend’s house where the only entertainment is their toddler playing with Legos. The box that shows what’s supposed to be built, maybe a car or robot, looks like it could be interesting but as you watch the child build, all that’s there is a square which doesn’t resemble anything close to what it could be. The toddler throws away the head of all the interesting characters minutes after opening the box just like the film does where all the characters (two of them) with a personality are tossed aside. The Tree is entertaining for the first few moments while you try to figure out what could possibly happen but in the end nothing is created. The Tree can be described in three words: “Waste of time.”
Most people would think that a movie about a woman who loses her husband would be a film about self discovery and healing her broken family but there’s nothing remotely resembling that in the movie. Instead, The Tree feels more like an episode of The Family Guy where random events happen but they aren’t really funny. Instead of a plot there’s just moments which are supposed to give the viewer some sense of a story. Due to the lack of plot and story the viewer is left with little or no emotional investment in the characters which is a huge problem if the viewer is looking for a memorable film.
The story itself is supposed to be about how the main characters husband dies (you may notice that I’m not using the characters name. This is done because she’s so bland that you forget it anyways) and his spirit comes back to live in a tree. The husband, whatever his name is, (who could have been an interesting character if he didn’t die at the beginning) was perfect in every way. He was handsome, took care of the family and the best lover on earth as we learn in a pointless conversation right after he dies. All of his good traits must have died with him because the tree that his spirit inhabits just causes problems throughout the film and at one point even falls through the bedroom of his forgettable wife after she connects with another man. Of course a guy as great as him wouldn’t want his family to move on or find happiness, he wants to cling to their misery and ruin their lives. The whole concept is just plain stupid and worst of all, doesn’t make sense when you take into account how perfect the husband’s character is supposed to be.
Even the photography and imagery only enhances the blandness of the movie. The color tone of the movie is dull and there’s little of no color in the film which doesn’t make it enjoyable to look at. There are some parts of the move where the director puts in some imagery which just looks horribly cliché. The biggest example of the imagery is the wilted flowers on a nightstand of the woman’s bed when she’s depressed. The only image that does stick in one’s mind is how many teeth the main character has in her goofy smile and that’s something nature did, not the director.
The saving grace for The Tree is that the actors all do an excellent job in their roles which makes the movie watchable instead of complete garbage. As unmemorable as the characters are, they’re not badly acted so it’s difficult to hate the film for all of its flaws. Given the story, even an Oscar winning actor couldn’t make this film worth watching so look for the two main actresses in other films which may actually make use of their ability in a noticeable way.
The Tree isn’t really worth watching unless you have absolutely nothing better to do. It’s the kind of a movie that you’d watch if the dvd was there and you need some background noise while you figure something else out to do. Personally my advice to you is, if you must watch this movie, wait for the film to come out on dvd then watch the first 10 minutes to get the basic plot. After you’ve grasped the basic idea, fast forward to halfway through the movie and watch it again for another 10 minutes so you’ve caught up on the story. Finally fast forward to the last 10 minutes of the movie so you can see the ending. Watching the movie this way may sound like you’re going to miss a lot but the plot you come up with for yourself as you put the pieces together will be much more interesting and rewarding than the movie could ever be. If there was any justice in the world, The Tree would be shipped out to the slums of India where it would be at home with all of the other things that no one cares about.