The Tree

July 27, 2010

Producer Sue Taylor was in attendance at Sunday night’s MIFF screening of The Tree (2010), an Australian/French collaborative film adaptation of Judy Pascoe’s 2002 novel, Our Father Who Art in the Tree. Very well received at screenings in Cannes, Paris and Sydney, its first Melbourne showing was no exception, the audience gasping, crying and clapping in appropriate accolade.

Dawn O’Neil (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is a strong-willed woman left emotionally devastated and physically alienated in the Australian countryside following her husband’s sudden heart attack and subsequent death. On top of it all she has four kids to consider. When only daughter, and self-professed “dad’s favourite” Simone confides in her mother that she’s found a way of communicating with her dead father, Dawn’s outlook alters. The two then spend much of their spare time sat in the tree confiding in the supposed spirit of their lost loved one. As the family try to move on and rebuild their lives the tree and the memory they hold all too dear becomes a hinderance; literally and figuratively destroying their home and tearing the cohesion of their family unit apart.

Charlotte Gainsbourg gives a fantastic performance as always in what is essentially a very decent drama. Centred around a gentle metaphor (though occasionally erring on too sentimental) the vision is beautiful and the character relationships genuinely compelling. Not a film to change your life but an engaging enough effort and a well observed view of the rural landscape it’s set against.

The Tree screens as part of this year’s MIFF and is screening again on Saturday July 31 2010, 4.45pm in Greater Union cinema 3.

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