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Sunday 18 February 2018

Film Review: The Tree ***

(Club, IFI)

Paul Whitington

In Julie Bertucelli's handsome drama set in the Australian outback, Simone (Morgana Davies) is the third child of Tim (Christian Byers) and Dawn O'Neill (Charlotte Gainsbourg). Wild and willful, she's devoted to her father and devastated when he dies suddenly. So is her mother, who falls to pieces for a time.

Salvation comes in the form of a job at a local store, and a romance with a plumber called George. This goes down like a tonne of bricks with Simone, who has become convinced that the spirit of her father now resides in a tree in their back garden. The tree's roots have begun to threaten the house's foundation, and a bit of it collapses into Dawn's bedroom. Is this Tim's spirit? I'm not really sure, but I do know that Bertucelli is pretty heavyhanded with her symbolism, and that the power of this potentially moving story is further diminished by very clunky dialogue.

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