‘It was simple for me: the saints were in heaven, and guardian angels had extendable wings like Batman, and my dad had died and gone to live in the tree in the back yard.’
When Simone’s father dies, her mother Dawn is left to raise her and her brothers on her own. As their mother succumbs to sorrow, the children are left floundering in their own unhappiness and loss. But Simone hears her father calling to her from the tree outside her window, and climbs the tree to listen.
At first disbelieving, her mother agrees to climb and listen too. The children hear their mother and father laughing and arguing in the tree and are consoled. But the tree’s roots are growing under the house, threatening to pull it down …
The Tree stands high on any list of fine Australian films of recent years, even if the French are entitled to some credit. There is a message of hope and happiness, of course, never more vividly conveyed than in the scene during a beach holiday when Dawn and Simone play together in the surf (like everything else, Nigel Bluck’s wide-screen camerawork is consistently satisfying). We are left to conclude that happiness is something we can acquire for ourselves, whatever cards have been dealt. As Dawn says: “I choose to be happy, and I am happy.” She may be too much of an optimist, but we love her for it. In its alternating moods of light and darkness, realism and mystery, gladness and sorrow, this modest film comes close to perfection.” Evan Williams in The Australian, Saturday September 25, 2010
About the Contributor
While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection.