2010 || France-Australia || in English || Feature


Memento Films International (Paris)


CANNES 2010 -Closing Night Film


After the sudden loss of her father, 8-year-old Simone shares a secret with her mother Dawn: her father whispers to her through the leaves of the magnificient tree by their house. Simone is convinced that he’s come back to protect her family. Soon, Simone’s three brothers and Dawn also take comfort in the reassuring tree. But the new bond between mother and daughter is threatened when Dawn starts dating George. Simone moves into the treehouse and refuses to come down. With branches infiltrating the house and roots destroying the foundations, the tree seems to be siding with Simone. Dawn refuses to let the tree take control of her family... starring Charlotte Gainsbourg and Marton Csokas. From the director of SINCE OTAR LEFT (DEPUIS QU'OTAR EST PARTI).


Charlotte Gainsbourg, Marton Csokas


A fine, unshowy Charlotte Gainsbourg performance anchors a well-paced narrative... For good measure, the film is several grades above the norm for a Cannes closing-night selection... Gainsbourg's Dawn is a wreck, however, and it's the actor's total involvement in this woman's tragedy that makes the central drama work as well as it does. In this way, Gainsbourg is allowed to be something much closer to a human being suffering a devastating loss than she was in last year's Cannes entry, "Antichrist." ... the elemental conflict -- between a little girl's willfulness, born out of love that won't let go of the dead, and her family's urge to get on with the living -- is expressively filmed... "The Tree" is a top-flight technical achievement for Aussie filmmaking, capped by one strong, effects-laden scene in particular. Nigel Bluck's widescreen cinematography plays a crucial role in making the Morten Bay fig seem alive without effects getting in the way, while Gregoire Hetzel's Arvo Part-influenced score tends to telegraph emotions.
Robert Koehler, VARIETY

Given the house’s location and the landscape around it, nature is an essential component of the story, intervening every once in a while and with all due respect to little Morgana Davies and to Charlotte Gainsbourg - both touching in their respective parts - the real star of the movie, as the title indicates, is the huge fig tree which sends its branches and roots in every direction, looking for all purposes, like a giant octopus, to quote one
of Dawn’s distraught neighbours.... Glowingly shot by Nigel Bluck, Bertuccelli’s film has all the compassionate approach required for the occasion...