Search DVDBeaver

S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "L'arbre" )


directed by Julie Bertuccelli
France/Australia/Germany/Italy 2010


Dawn's (Charlotte Gainsbourg, ANTICHRIST) idyllic family life in the Australian wilderness is shattered when her husband Peter (Aden Young, MAO'S LAST DANCER) dies suddenly. She is left alone with four children and no income. Over the course of eight months, each of the family members finds ways to deal with their loss. Oldest son Tim (Christian Byers) has found part-time work in a lumber yard and is planning to leave home once he passes his exams, Lou (Tom Russell) makes friends, youngest child Charlie (Gabriel Gotting) seems to be refusing to learn to talk, while daughter Simone (Morgana Davies) comes to believe that her father's spirit is alive inside the massive tree that overshadows their home. When the plumbing starts acting up, Dawn approaches plumber George (Marton Csokas, ASYLUM) who - in addition to giving her a job at his shop - inspects the plumbing and surmises that the roots of the tree are seeking nourishment (much of the surrounding plant life is dying due to water restrictions). Dawn and George enter in a relationship, and Simone takes interprets the dead branch that crashes through the wall of Dawn's bedroom to be a sign of their father's disapproval. The complaints of neighbors - including nosy Mrs. Johnson (Penne Hackforth-Jones, MURIEL'S WEDDING) - about the property damage caused by the tree's roots, and George's insistence that the tree come down before it further damages Dawn's home, causes Simone to move into the tree to keep it from being cut down. This causes tension between George and Dawn - who was already resisting cutting down the tree to irk Mrs. Johnson - but the ensuing threat of a cyclone may put Simone's faith to the test.

Considerably different in tone from Charlotte Gainsbourg's last experience in the great outdoors, THE TREE - the second feature film of Julie Bertuccelli (SINCE OTAR LEFT) - feels pretty run-of-the-mill. I have not read the source novel "Our Father Who Art in the Tree" by Judy Pascoe, nor the screenplay by Elizabeth J. Mars that Bertuccelli's subsequent re-write is based on (Bertuccelli - who originally wanted to adapt Italo Calvino's "The Baron in the Trees" before discovering that Calvino's will disallowed the film adaptation of that property - discovered that the book had already been optioned by an Australian company and struck a co-production deal with them), but the film is anything but subtle. Obviously, the tree and its possible incarnation of Dawn's dead husband represents the past, and George urging her to cut it down in order to save the house - in contrast to neighbor Mrs. Johnson's mere annoyance with it - means choosing between the past and the present and future. There is a lack of balance in the characterizations - which would be understandable if the script had chosen to portray things specifically from Dawn's POV or that of Simone (the source novel reportedly is written from the daughter's perspective) - that makes Dawn wishy-washy instead of conflicted, and Simone utterly insufferable (despite Davies obvious talent). The other children (and the actosr who play them) are largely sidelined, and the relationship between Dawn and George is shallowly-developed and limply resolved with the cliche ambiguous "Will I see you again?" closing bit (not to mention plenty of trailer-quotable lines of dialogue). The cinematography of Nigel Bluck (second unit DP on the LORD OF THE RINGS films) is gorgeous to behold, but Gregoire Hetzel's (A CHRISTMAS TALE) beautiful score - which occasionally reminded me of Tinderstick's scoring for Claire Denis' WHITE MATERIAL - is rather disruptively employed throughout.

Eric Cotenas


Theatrical Release: 11 August 2010 (France)

Reviews        More Reviews       DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Artificial Eye - Region 0 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:


Artificial Eye

Region 0 - PAL

Runtime 1:36:27 (4% PAL speedup)

2.34:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.8 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.34:1

Edition Details:
• Making-of (16:9; 30:21)
• Trailer (16:9; 1:47)

DVD Release Date: October 10th, 2011

Chapters 12



For some odd reason, Artificial Eye's disc features only a 2.0 downmix of the original 5.1 track (the end credits sport DTS and Dolby Digital logos). The French documentary "In the Shadow of THE TREE" describes the rights issues with source novel, the long search for the perfect tree (a real tree augmented with prop roots and vines), the French/Australian production collaboration (the back-and-forth between producers Fogiel and Taylor is more interesting than the relationships in the film), and the usual talking heads. A trailer is the only other extra.

The recent US DVD from Zeitgeist Films includes the same making-of featurette, but also reportedly features several deleted scenes. This edition also features a 2.0 mix in place of the original 5.1. The French Blu-ray (available HERE) is Region B-locked but reportedly features DTS-MA and Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in English and French (the DVD edition likely features the DD 5.1 tracks). Paramount's R4 Australian disc features a 5.1 (extras not confirmed).

  - Eric Cotenas


DVD Menus


Screen Captures














DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:


Artificial Eye

Region 0 - PAL



Search DVDBeaver
S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r


Hit Counter


DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Thank You!