Believe it or not, I did spend a lot of time in deciding which movie I would use for this bonus review. Looking back on the movies that I have watched in our film class, I thought the movie Under the tree would be an excellent addition to the list of European films that have made me glad from watching it. Now, that isn’t to say the genre of this film was a happy one, in fact, its darkly funny slice of what I guess is Scandinavian humor (not even sure if there is one). The bleakness and the dark comedy twists surprised me when I found out that Icelanders are actually the fourth happiest people n in the world. Upon research, the director was quoted to have been inspired by Iceland’s high rate of “neighbour rage”, again surprised that they are still the 4th happiest. The increasing feud among neighbors are perhaps an inevitable problem for the Viking descendants, but the film encapsulates the ongoing issue in its part-thriller, part-intelligent relationship drama, topped with a juicy dollop of savage black comedy.
What I liked about this film, and actually a lot of the films we watched in class, is the sudden change of direction of the genre. This film took a quick reversal from being a drama movie about a family and their bickering neighbors to a much darker genre on porn, spy cameras, suicide, and a large tree that people are always fighting about. Whats there not to love?
As is the fate of all husbands, Atli gets caught watching porn by his wife. I do think that the fact that the porn video was of himself and another woman did make it far worse than the problem initially seemed to be. I wasn’t entirely surprised to see Atli getting kicked out of his house and moving back in with his parents. Despite having done what he did, Atli is able to convince the audience to feel for him. He seems miserable and pity living with his parents. What made it even sadder was his attempts to patch things up with his wife. Slowly, the film starts to unravel the pandora’s box and all its darkness to the audience when the quarrel between Atli’s parents and their next door neighbors began to take place over the fate of the giant tree.Under The Tree is very perceptive about family relationships – about bad faith between generations and between husbands and wives as well as over the garden fence.