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Movies Review

Cannes 2010: 'The Tree'

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The Tree
Released on Sunday, May 23 2010

When Charlotte Gainsbourg turned up at Cannes last year, it was with the controversial Antichrist. Just 12 months on, she's back in Julie Bertucelli's The Tree - and there are a couple of striking similarities with Lars Von Trier's piece. Again her character must deal with a death in the family (then a child, this time her husband), and again the movie runs with the theme of the raw power of nature. There though, the similarities end. Unlike Von Trier's artsy sex 'n' bloodfest, The Tree is a much more sedate and sensible, though ultimately less interesting, affair.

Gainsbourg plays Dawn, a mother-of-four who lives in the sticks in Australia with her husband and children. When her hubby dies suddenly, she's left to look after the kids herself. Her eldest son Tim wants to become a man and leave the nest. Middle son Lou chops off his hair, and youngest Charlie refuses to talk. Meanwhile, her daughter Simone (Morgana Davies) becomes convinced that the unwieldy tree outside their home contains the soul of their recently-departed father, who expired in his car a few feet from its trunk.

There seems some bizarre truth to Simone's idea when the roots and branches of the tree force their way into the family home, as Dawn gets closer to new boyfriend George (Marton Csokas) - though the film is much less about the dead and more about the struggle of those left behind. Gainsbourg is, as ever, wonderful, but the real star of the show is Davies. The young actress's beyond-her-years performance hints at a lifetime movie career should she want it. Hopefully, she'll get some roles in pictures with a bit more about them than this steady but slightly lacking drama.



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