Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
France/Australia/Germany/Italy, 2010. Les Films du Poisson, Taylor Media, Screen Australia, Arte France Cinéma, ARD Degeto Film, WDR/Arte, Canal+, Arte France, Dorje Film, Le Pacte, Memento Films International, Tatfilm, Screen Queensland, Screen NSW, Coficup 2, Backup Media, ScreenWest, Lotterywest, Centre Images – Région Centre, MEDIA Programme of the European Union, Goalpost Pictures, Kojo Pictures, arte Geie. Screenplay by Julie Bertuccelli, based on the screenplay by Elizabeth J. Mars, from the novel Our Father Who Art In The Tree by Judy Pascoe. Cinematography by Nigel Bluck. Produced by Sue Taylor. Music by Gregoire Hetzel. Production Design by Steven Jones-Evans. Costume Design by Joanna Mae Park. Film Editing by Francois Gedigier.
Charlotte Gainsbourg lives happily in a secluded, rural Australian town with her husband (Aden Young) and three children. Their idyll is devastated when he suddenly dies without warning and leaves her completely alone to fend for herself, with her young daughter coming to believe that the enormous tree that overlooks their property, whose roots grow like serpents and disturb their property and those of their neighbours, is inhabited by the spirit of her departed father. Gainsbourg enjoys the idea herself and, in her misery, somewhat latches onto it, but is pulled back to reality when a new job working for a local plumber (Marton Csokas) leads to a low-key romance. While this is a good idea to her grown-up brain, her daughter is not impressed with what she feels is a betrayal of loyalty to her late father and reacts with internalized rage. This atmospheric film by Julie Bertuccelli gets no points for narrative originality, but that isn’t much of a problem; despite thematic familiarity and a sometimes sluggish pace, the subtly dazzling visuals and the thrilling conclusion more than make up for its less than thrilling elements. The sight of Gainsbourg lying in bed with the branches of a tree is even more visually exciting than anything von Trier did to her in Antichrist, and the storm that ends the film is magnificently achieved.