FILM: The Tree (12A)

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Writer-director Julie Bertuccelli elegantly explores the grief of a family coming to terms with the sudden death of a father in this moving drama adapted from the novel by Judy Pascoe.

Peter O’Neill (Aden Young) and his wife Dawn (Charlotte Gainsbourg) live in a farmhouse with their four children Tim (Christian Byers), Lou (Tom Russell), Simone (Morgana Davies) and Charlie (Gabriel Gotting). Out of the blue, Peter suffers a heart attack behind the wheel of his truck and crashes the vehicle into the Moreton Bay fig tree that towers over the property. Eight-year-old Simone, her father’s favourite, becomes convinced that the spirit of Peter has transferred into the tree, which will protect the family from harm. Over time, the fig tree becomes overgrown and encroaches on the house so Dawn calls in plumber George (Marton Csokas) to remove the roots before the entire farmhouse is destroyed. Simone resists, believing that losing the tree would mean losing her father forever, so she begins a solitary protest to ensure that if the tree falls, she does too.

Released: August 5 (UK, selected cinemas), 100 mins