When Baldwin and Inga's next door neighbours complain that a tree in their backyard casts a shadow over their sundeck, what starts off as a typical spat between neighbours in the suburbs unexpectedly and violently spirals out of control.
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Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson
Nanna Kristín Magnúsdóttir
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Agnes throws Atli out and does not want him to see their daughter Ása anymore. He moves in with his parents, who are involved in a bitter dispute over their big and beautiful tree that casts a shadow on the neighbours' deck. As Atli fights for the right to see his daughter, the dispute with the neighbours intensifies - property is damaged, pets mysteriously go missing, security cameras are being installed and there is a rumor that the neighbor was seen with a chainsaw.Written by
It was screened in the Contemporary World Cinema section at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. See more »
Have a lot of love for foreign language films, of all decades and all genres. That and that it was another film seen as part of my quest to see as many 2018 films as possible were my main reasons in seeing 'Under the Tree' from Icelandic director Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson.
'Under the Tree' is a truly fine film and manages to take a relevant subject (feuding neighbours) and explore it in a way that was hilarious, shocking and moving. It won't be one of my favourite films any time soon, but in no way should it be overlooked and should be seen as an example of how to execute a film with a subject like this well. Sadly, 'Under the Tree' has been released here alongside more expensive in budget films that have been quite big box office successes and films that people are more likely to go and see. While having enjoyed many of the films in question (in no way is it intended to be knock), 'Under the Tree' is better than most of them and deserves better.
Sure 'Under the Tree' is occasionally a touch overcooked and some may find some of the behaviours extreme.
However, Sigurdsson directs with a perfect balance of hilarious mayhem and melancholic pathos. This is also reflected in the thought-provoking script he scripted with Huldar Breidfjord. Many parts are hilarious in a dark way, others genuinely shock and there are emotional parts too, all in a way that is kept plausible throughout. Neighbour feuding sounds insignificant on paper to some, but 'Under the Tree' makes it darkly funny, disturbing and melancholic, a not easy feat but beautifully done here.
The storytelling is always compelling, with the tensions having a bleakness and ferocity while still entertaining and emotionally resonating. There is a good deal happening, but not in a way that it feels cluttered with too many characters and subplots, instead there is enough breathing space and depth while having an alertness to the drama.
A good cast would be needed to bring all this life. Luckily, 'Under the Tree's' cast is excellent. Particularly note-worthy of a cast where everybody is good and nobody bad is Edda Bjorgvinsdottir on fiercely intense form, her character near-unhinged.
It is a very well made film visually, beautifully shot in particular. The music is inspired, appropriate and cleverly used.
Overall, great and shouldn't be forgotten. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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