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The Tree (2010)

It's a tale told many times before. A beloved husband and father suddenly dies, and the family left behind have to come to terms with their grief. In this case the family are Dawn O'Neil, and her three children - Simone, a girl of 12, and her much older and much younger brothers.

The family home stands next to a huge fig tree, where young Simone decides the sprit of her father can be found. She persuades her mother to join in the fun, and the tree becomes a metaphor for the place their father held in their lives. Needless to say, after some predictable trials and tribulations, the time comes when the tree has to go to make way for a new beginning.

It's pleasant enough, if unremarkable. The cinematography is nice. There are lots of tourist-board shots of the Australian outback. It moves along at a steady pace. The three child actors pull their weight, as does Marton Csokas as the love interest. The weak link for me was the mother, Dawn, played by Charlotte Gainsbourgh. I just couldn't get over her accent. Given (in the film) she has a French father, a Scottish mother, and moved to Australia at a young age, you'd think it would be either French, or Australian, or even Scottish. But no. It's very, very English.

'The Tree' was filmed in Queensland, and is a French-Australian co-production. It doesn't seem to have been a 50-50 deal. It's hard to spot the French. The only evidence is the French director, Julie Bertucelli and Mme Gainsbourgh who neither has a French accent, nor speaks a word of French in the whole film.

'The Tree' closed the Cannes film festival, and is doing the rounds in France (and presumably Australia), but I'm not sure it's strong enough to make it big elsewhere.

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