Film Review: Under the Tree

Throughout history, disagreements between families, friends or neighbours have often escalated rapidly to become all our feuds. The resulting acrimony, destruction and bloodshed is often way out of proportion to the original dispute. This has been reflected in art throughout the ages, from Romeo and Juliet through Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? to Bad Neighbours. In Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson’s Icelandic drama Under the Tree a small complaint balloons into all-out war.

Atli (Steinþór Hróar Steinþórsson) finds himself homeless after his partner Agnes (Lára Jóhanna Jónsdóttir) catches him watching an old sex tape. He moves back in with his parents, Inga (Edda Björgvinsdóttir) and Baldvin (Sigurður Sigurjónsson). Whilst he fights for custody of his daughter, his parents’ dispute with their neighbours Konrad (Þorsteinn Bachmann) and Eybjorg (Selma Björnsdóttir) escalates quite dramatically.

Under the Tree is a thrilling and devilishly sly comedy drama which takes a small disagreement and lets it spiral joyfully out of control. Sigurðsson focuses his lens on humans and how we interact with each other. How family dynamics work and how social relationships are often driven by external factors. The cast are magnificent and there’s something delightful about the way they’re allowed to really go for it. Under the Tree is a darkly comic satire about grief, unhappiness and the human condition.

Under the Tree is out in cinemas from 10 August.

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