Closing Cannes on a close-up of a tree
Selected for the final screening at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival, Julie Bertuccelli’s The Tree is set in small-town Australia and is based on the first novel by Judy Pascoe's Our Father who Art in the Tree.
This is Bertuccelli’s second feature film, after the acclaimed Depuis qu’Otar est parti (2003).
Charlotte Gainsbourg is perfectly distracted in the role of a grieving housewife, Dawn, whose husband has a heart attack, leaving her very suddenly with four children, two of them small.
She also has to deal with a grumpy neighbour who starts to nag her about cutting down the magnificent tree in their garden because its massive roots are stretching further and further to find scarce water.
Her second-youngest child, eight-year-old Simone, hears her father’s voice in the tree that she loves to climb, and converses with him.
It’s when Dawn finds a new lover and starts getting her life back together that the tree starts creating havoc, with branches crashing through the wall into Dawn’s bedroom. And the roots block the drainage system causing the toilet to fill up with pretty green frogs.
Dawn and Simone become locked in battle over the fate of tree as Dawn returns to the land of the living. But nature is going to prove stronger than them all when a cyclone rips the tree from its roots and family as well.
The children are endearing. Morgana Davis, as Simone, is definitely one to watch grow. She becomes the lead role in The Tree. But her three siblings are equally sincere in their roles.
It’s a film that, as yet, hasn’t sparked any controversy and doesn’t talk about politics or corruption. It’s just a simple tale of innocence and the power of nature.