Keswick Film Club - Reviews - Under The Tree

Reviews - Under The Tree

Under The Tree

Reviewed By Vaughan Ames

Under The Tree
Under The Tree
When is a comedy not a comedy? Well one answer appears to be 'when it is Icelandic'. We have had a couple of Icelandic films before and we already knew their humour was black; this one was inky in the extreme! There were definitely funny moments but I think we would call it a drama with some laughs rather than a comedy drama. That said - the drama was excellent...

We are watching two neighbouring houses; in one house, an older couple – Ingar and Baldvin – are depressed as their eldest son has gone missing, presumed to have committed suicide. Next door, Konrad has remarried to a younger wife Eyborg who wants to sunbathe in the garden but can't because of 'the tree' next door; Ingar will hear nothing of anyone even trimming the branches, even though Konrad keeps asking. Add to this mix, Ingar's younger son Atli has been kicked out by his wife for watching porn and has moved home.

Baldvin's car tyres are slashed one day; was it the neighbours getting revenge for the tree? Someone then leaves some rude gnomes in Konrad and Eyborg's garden; Eyborg assumes it was Ingar... relations are not good! Ingar's lovely cat goes missing; she is convinced 'the bitch next door' has killed it so, obviously (?), she has their dog put down...and stuffed! I think you will be getting the picture here...where will it end?

Meanwhile Atli is trying to talk to his wife or at least see his daughter but getting nowhere, so takes the daughter out of school for a trip. This results in him being charged with damages at the school. This is not a happy household either...

Strangely, with all this hatred and chaos going on, the story was getting better and better. We had only gradually found out about the missing eldest son, so could begin to sympathise with the seemingly crazy Ingar. It turned out that Atli's porn was actually a film he took of himself with a previous girlfriend; OK, why hadn't he destroyed it when they split up, but...maybe more forgivable than porn..? Konrad and Eyborg were trying really hard to have a child with little success...basically, like most people these strange couples did have back stories which made their behaviour more understandable; the problem was they weren't talking to each other.

The film came to a head with Atli camping in the back garden as they suspected Konrad intended to chainsaw 'the tree'. When Konrad discovers the stuffed dog, he sets out to do exactly that. Baldvin hears the saw and rushes out to save his tree, only to knock Konrad into it...pushing the tree over and killing Atli in the tent (You had to see this bit...believe it or not it was actually funny!). The two guys then slug it out in the garage...and kill each other! The ending, which many people did guess in advance was an aerial shot of the garden...with the cat walking back into the house!

The moral? Love they Neighbour came to mind! How many problems in the world are caused by lack of communication?

The audience was very split over the merits of this one, which just proves my point – 'there is no such thing as a good film, only one that YOU like'! Personally, I thought it was a cracker by the end...though maybe NOT a comedy!

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Keswick Film Club won the Best New Film Society at the British Federation Of Film Societies awards in 2000.

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