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THE TREE

Director: JULIE BERTUCCELLI

100 minutes| France-Australia-Germany-Italy| 2010| Colour| D-Cinema


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French writer-director Julie Bertuccelli must be a wandering spirit, following her lovely Georgian-set drama Since Otar Left with this story of grief and regeneration unfolding in rural Queensland. Charlotte Gainsbourg is the mum raising three kids in a ramshackle house and coping with the loss of her husband to a sudden fatal heart attack. The title of Judy Pascoe’s source novel, Our Father Who Art in the Tree, hints at subsequent surprising developments, since her eight-year-old (adorable Morgana Davies) is convinced she hears her dad’s spirit communing with her from inside the sprawling Moreton Bay fig tree dominating the family home. Mourning hits Gainsbourg hard, but as she begins to warm to local plumber Marton Csokas, her little girl becomes increasingly resentful . . .

With elements of parable in the telling, this isn’t a conventional rites-of-passage story, but it is unusual, endearing and delightfully observed as it traces the mysterious paths the heart must take en route to healing. (Notes by Trevor Johnston).

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