The Tree - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Tree Reviews

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Super Reviewer
December 8, 2011
I expected a lot more from this film, just wasn't what I saw in the previews. But still an enjoyable family film from Australia. About a young girl who loses her father and she believes the sprit of her father is in a tree outside there house. Might make a film festival somewhere. Even if it does its not going to be one of the outstanding films of that festival. 3 stars
Super Reviewer
July 17, 2011
In "The Tree," Peter O'Neil(Aden Young) dies from a massive heart attack on the way home from work one day. His widow Dawn(Charlotte Gainsbourg) is morose and cannot even get up from bed most days, leaving the house to become a disaster area. That's okay because their 8-year old daughter Simone(Morgana Davies) communes with her father's spirit who she feels inhabits the giant tree in their yard.(By contrast, Dawn does not take to a life of crime fighting when a bat invades the kitchen one night.) Things slowly come back to life as Tim(Christian Byers), the oldest son, gets a part-time job. Dawn does, too, almost by accident while she is looking for a plumber to take care of the frogs in the toilet.

"The Tree" is a slight, if not totally insignificant, movie. What it is mostly concerned with is the role of nature and how totally unpredictable it can be, especially in the Australian outback which is photographed well.(Apparently, they don't have seasons as we know them, so occasionally we get an update on how much time has passed.) All of sorts of creatures, not intending harm, have cameos. But it is the giant tree that dominates the landscape and impacts not only the O'Neils but also the neighbors that is the biggest star of the movie. And like nature, the grieving process does not run by a specific timetable.
Ryan M
Super Reviewer
½ December 7, 2011
** out of ****

"The Tree" is a perfect example of a movie that has all the necessary materials - an appealing set-up that promises emotional resonance and overwhelming warmth, a strong starring performance from a well-respected actor/actress, and an almost outlandish sense of care for the setting of choice. In the film's case, that setting is Australia; and the film decidedly embraces as much of the place as it can. This is a film of beautiful sights, a few genuinely stunning images, and some excellent performances all around. But it's also a film that lacks dramatic or emotional insight, and advertises itself as an art film - therefore promising abnormality - and ultimately lying by delivering normality in the worst degree. One wonders why it was made; and so well.

What we've got here is your basic grieving drama with a twist; Dawn (Charlotte Gainsbourg) must face the philosophies of life after her husband dies from a heart attack, leaving her to look after their family on the secluded farmhouse in which they have resided for years. Next to the house, there is a very large tree (a Moreton Bay Fig to be precise); and until now, it has served little a purpose aside from providing the children with an expansive and popular addition to their playground; which is essentially their backyard. However, now one of the young daughters believes that within the tree lies the soul of her dead father. In other words, she thinks that her father - through the leaves of the tree - can send her messages from his next life and have extended chats with her and anyone else willing to believe in such otherworldly existence.

Dawn is skeptical at first; but soon learns to accept that maybe - just maybe - there is a possibility for spirituality in her boring, depressing, slow-moving life. Through this new-found optimism, she embarks on a self-journey to piece her life back together and basically start anew; she falls in love with a local plumber, who also employs her, and the kids try to cope with the mixed emotions that can be either taken or received from such a thing.

That's your story; no more and no less than what I've just described. If that sounds like your idea of a solid grieving drama, then please, be my guest and give this movie a go. I didn't particularly mind it myself; it's about as melodramatic, formulaic, and uninteresting as most films of its kind that I've seen, but at the same time, not as bad as, say, half of the lot. I'll admit that it's pretty well-made on a technical scale; the filmmaking is certainly competent and there were few noticeable stylistic errors to be found (in fact, the most stylistic moments actually work pretty well). If only the story and the characters were up to par with those qualities, then damn, this would have been a hell of a drama.

This is the kind of movie where you desperately want to "feel" something, but the narrative pretensions and thematic ambitions consistently get in the way of you bringing out as much as you bring in. It's just not a movie for everyone; and as I imagine, not a movie for most people much like myself. But that's just a general assumption; and boy, I could be wrong. "The Tree" is, with all due respect, a pretty decent flick; but that's literally it. If you crave something more, then it's time to move along.

Anyways, the critics seem to like this one as a whole; I'm not the only detractor, but the reactions are slightly more positive than negative at this point. "The Tree" is pleasant and visually interesting enough to appeal to a certain crowd (the newbie art-house crowd, the drama crowd, the sappy crowd). But it failed to leave a lasting impact on me; and while I openly accept the fact that not all dramas are made equal - and therefore, not all of them really need to reach me on some complex emotional level - this one underachieves rather grossly. But hey; it's completely up to you whether you're fine with that or not. I wasn't.
Super Reviewer
½ July 21, 2011
Metaphorical at every turn, "The Tree" is about letting go without giving up. Its languid pace worked against it initially but the storyline eventually grew into its own, with the respectfully delicate disconnects emphasizing on events that push the characters towards acceptance and resolution. Well acted, the pairing of Charlotte Gainsbourg and the young Morgana Davies is compelling to watch. The film also gets an extra boost for using The Cinematic Orchestra‚(TM)s "To Build A Home," a favourite song of mine.
Super Reviewer
March 10, 2012
Firstly, this is such a well directed film. The cinematography and editing is fantastic; Bertuccelli creates a beautiful sense of magical realism, especially with every shot of the actual tree.
However although a wonderfully made film, it falls a little flat within it‚(TM)s story and character. Charlotte Gainsbourg‚(TM)s mourning mother is portrayed really well, but it is such a simple character and Gainsbourg looks like she is strolling through the roll; the little daughter is the only completely engaging character.
Although Bertuccelli creates that magical reality for real human tragedy to be explored; it just feels surface deep and none of the story arcs ever seemed to be seen right through. Still, there are alot of good reviews on it, so what do I know‚¶
Super Reviewer
October 21, 2010
The Tree is set in rural Australia and features the usually compelling French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg. It is based on the novel by Judy Pascoe which came to the attention of Western Australian producer Sue Taylor and French director Julie Bertucelli.

Bertucelli directs the film and gives it a distinctly European flavour eventhough it is set well and truly in the heart of the Australian rural landscape. She has created a "feeling" rather than a film -- it is slightly dreamy and disconnected and much of it is episodic , as though you are dipping into the story at crucial moments, rather than following a story.

The Tree follows the grief of a family after the sudden and untimely death of their father and husband Peter (Aden Young.) In the opening sequences, it is clear that the father has a special bond with his only daughter Simore (Morgana Davies.) His wife Dawn's (Gainbourg's) grief over his death is overwhelming, to the point she doesn't get out of bed, and children do their best to organise themselves. The focus of the film is on the daughter Simone, almost to the exclusion of the other children. The older ones seem to have walk-on parts, and feature intermittently, so it is hard to get a feel for the familial relationship or their feelings about their father.

The main premise of the film is that Simone believes her father has taken up residence in the Moreton Bay Fig tree beside the house, and that he speaks to her on the whispers of the wind. She almost convinces her mother of the same thing.
½ January 5, 2012
The Tree is about a happy young Australian family in which the dad dies unexpectedly, and how they all work through the loss. Dawn is the mother and she can barely function even after two months. During this time the four children pick up the slack like troopers. The oldest, Tim, is about 17 and he begins to lose patience. He gently coaxes his mum back into the world.

The only daughter is 8-year-old Simone. She was very emotionally attached to her dad, even believing she was his favorite. Simone is convinced her dad is "in" the huge mango tree next to their house and that he speaks to her through it. This fantasy allows her to maintain a happy outlook while coming to terms with the loss of her father. When its roots begin to do serious damage to the house, the tree clearly must be taken down. Her father's death was unimaginable, so she's clinging to this tree that represents unwavering stability, literally and figuratively. Adding to her stress, her mum has found a possible romantic interest, which chips away at Simone's shaky security even further.

What I liked about the story was the closeness of the family and how ably they dealt with great misfortune. Nobody ever said or did anything or made a selfish choice that hurt the family irreparably. The tree didn't have special effects or violence or much sex. It was just a sweet little insignificant movie with good writing and good acting. Since there are so many better movies, I can't say that I'd recommend you watch it. But based on its merits, I'll give it a 7.
July 15, 2011
Combining simple family drama with hints of understated magical realism, the feature's arboreal metaphor is a bit too crude and vague to offer anything profound.
January 22, 2016
Not a well made film, but the ideas are intriguing and Morgana Davies is marvellous as 8 year old Simone.
½ July 15, 2014
A raw and pointed story of what happens when life is turned upside down. Stunning and beautiful.
½ April 18, 2014
A mystical story about a family dealing with grief.
Worth watching for the performance by Morgana Davies as Simone.
(I love the the title of the book, "Our Father Who Art in the Tree".)
February 1, 2012
In Australia, little gems are often completely overlooked by audiences and even critics don't really bring them to much attention. This was the case with "Love Serenade" and "The Black Balloon" and many others before and since. Albeit a coproduction with France "The Tree" is another one in that line and upon release it received little exposure and limited distribution. It was even hard to trace after coming out on DVD with not many rental shops stocking it. This film really works, the characters are spot on, the story is solid and the emotions that drive the plot are heartfelt and real. The camerawork is very good and the acting is a joy, with Morgana Davies obviously the standout. At the end I wanted to follow this family on the road to see where they'd all end up and what would happen next, obviously the film got me hooked.
June 22, 2012
Great cinematography that lead to really good imaging that showed the emotions of the characters. Recommend!!!
August 14, 2013
A film about death that never really comes to life.
½ June 5, 2013
Mostly a non event, containing the antics of a brat child and the whimsy of a widow
June 4, 2013
The Tree (2010): A whimsical Australian-French co-production, using the innocent charm of the child performers and their respective quirky characters (especially Morgana Davies as eight-year-old Simone) as a narrative strength. The adults also fare well with a distant, complex turn by Charlotte Gainsbourg and a fine Marton Csokas, keeping viewers engaged as the titular character dominates their emotional and physical lives, offering comfort and solace, as well as expressing anger and pain. Beautifully photographed and gently scored, this is a touching drama.
½ November 13, 2011
The book (Our Father Who Lives in a Tree) was better, but this little low budget Aussie film does it justice. I volunteered as a grief counselor at a Grief Center when I first became acquainted with the touching book this film was based on.
½ September 29, 2012
Beautiful well-written film, gorgeous settings, but still missing something. Gainsbourg was great as the mother, but Morgana Davies as the little girl was the star of the movie.
July 11, 2011
a very nice australian production. it tells a story of a family and the up and downs in life. not the best movie ever but still has the sense of life and family. a nice drama to watch
September 22, 2012
ich guck keine filme mehr mit charlotte gainsbourg....nur wenn es wirklich gegenargumente gibt...fŁr esotherikfans und freunde von frau gainsbourg sicherlich ok aber der rest kanns auch lassen
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