Film Reviews

Under the Tree review: Dir. Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson (2018)

If psychological masterpieces are your bag, you’re in for an absolute treat with Under the Tree; a chilling drama which has been aptly dubbed as ‘Urban Satire’ and a remarkable narrative on the current political climate. Whilst the feature may take a little while to unravel, the ending sequence is more than worth it after you’re filled with viscerally intrepid emotion.

I’ll admit, my interest started to wane mid-way through the feature, but once Icelandic director Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson made his plot motivations known, it was grim chaos from there on out. What may have started out as a kitchen sink-esque drama, with the dry acting, unfolds into every family’s worst nightmare. The clever orchestration of the plot allowed the sentiment to become highly resonant – I’m sure anyone whose parents have ever got into a spat with the neighbours will appreciate the sly ingenuity behind the direction.

Under the Tree follows a hapless man who is accused of adultery and is forced to move in with his parents as he battles for custody over his four-year-old daughter. His paternal struggle is overlooked once he gets involved in his parent’s feud with the neighbours which all started due to an old tree in the yard.

With none of the main protagonists coming across as particularly amiable it was hard to get invested in the story-line – there are only so many furrowed brows you can see before sharing in the same pensive state. Sentiments ran cold and bitter through most of the exchanges alluding to the drabness of destitution. It is only when the parents of the failed Lothario show the extent of their neighbourly spite you get that sense of trepidation which doesn’t leave you for long after the credits have rolled.

While I could tell you the gritty details of the drama and tragedy in Under The Tree, which the Icelandic film narrates so poignantly, that would only dampen the genius execution of the plot. Instead I’ll tell you to get ready for some inventive forms of revenge that may make you think twice about angering your neighbours.

Under the Tree is in UK cinemas now:

Watch the trailer:




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