In her second film (after 2003's Since Otar Left), writer-director Julie Bertuccelli, adapting Judy Pascoe's 2002 novel Our Father Who Art in the Tree, is sometimes partial to clumsy dialogue ("Would you say we're a happy family?" Dawn asks her oldest) and scattershot pacing. But Gainsbourg and Davies, almost feral with her mass of untamed blond curls, make a memorable parent-child pair, first as supernatural-secret–sharing friends, then as foes, especially after Dawn takes up with the plumbing-supply guy. The massive timber becomes the family's most formidable enemy, its roots clogging up drainage systems and its branches crashing through bedrooms. If the message of "Let go and move on" is suggested a little too obviously by Bertuccelli's destructive title character, it at least serves as the arboreal opposite to Terrence Malick's cosmic mumbo-jumbo — The Tree of Death.
THE TREE | Written and directed by JULIE BERTUCCELLI | Zeitgeist Films | Nuart
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