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Review: The Tree

Adjusting to loss
By PETER KEOUGH  |  July 19, 2011
3.0 3.0 Stars

In a less drastic take on grief than her role in Lars von Trier's Antichrist, Charlotte Gainsbourg plays Dawn, a wife and mother of four children whose idyllic life on a farm in the Australian outback shatters when her husband drops dead. Everyone in the family tries to adjust to the loss except for eight-year-old Simone (Morgana Davies), who believes her father's spirit inhabits the huge mangrove tree that overhangs the house. You might believe her, too, not just because Davies puts in a performance that holds its own with that of the masterful Gainsbourg, but also because director Julie Bertuccelli evokes the uncanniness of Polanski's Repulsion. At least when she doesn't edge towards the tawdry eeriness of The Ruins — as in scenes where the roots and branches of the tree grow wild and entwine with the human habitation. The film succeeds most when it sticks to a detached naturalism, both in long shots of the landscape and the interactions of the subdued, complex characters.

  Topics: Reviews , Boston, Australia, Family,  More more >
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