Today I made time for two movies before work. The first, at the International Film Festival an Australian/French film called The Tree had me emotionally invested from the get go. We’re talking about a film where I knew a certain thing was going to happen pretty early on, yet when it did within the first five to ten minutes it had me in tears (and I don’t, as a rule, cry in films). We’re not talking bawling, just a bit of welling up and emotional connection with the characters, but still, it takes something to get me to cry in a movie, you know. Charlotte Gainsbourg is always excellent in an emotionally complex role, and the young actress who played her daughter, one of four children, drew me into the lives of this family living through some very trying circumstances in the countryside outside a small town in Queensland, Australia. That the titular tree was a gigantic Moreton Bay fig also got me onside, seeing as I find them to be truly magnificent. The final note of the film was a live rendition of The Cinematic Orchestra’s To Build A Home, a song which I love, and which lyrically fits perfectly with the story. You can watch/listen to it here.
From there I went on to watch Inception with a friend. Of course this movie has been highly anticipated and features several excellent and talented actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy, Marion Cotillard and Michael Caine. Director Christopher Nolan has proved himself time and again recently, from Momento to the Batman franchise reboot he has built up an impressive body of work, but this is a film that has been circling his runway for a few years now, and has finally been able to come in to land. For hyped films of the year this blows Avatar right out of the water in my book. I knew it would be mentally challenging when I went in (I know of at least a few people who have had trouble not getting lost in the levels of plot that run through its over two-hour run time), and within the first twenty minutes I felt like I might not be in the right state of mind/level of mental agility to deal with its relentless pacing. As it turned out I was fine. I never found myself at a loss to know what was going on, and was on the edge of my seat (not literally) through a significant portion of it. Things I will say: Leonardo is slightly creepy. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page deserve the high praise they have received for their performances in their recent work, and the same applies here. All in all it is a very slick and well put together piece of cinema. I truly enjoyed it.
The problem comes when it comes to comparisons, which today prove to be troublesome… The first is a small film with a strong heart. The second is a grand spectacle built to amaze and dazzle (which it will). I guess the problem for me is that I feel a stronger personal connection to The Tree, and because I know that Inception will be a success anyway, I hope that The Tree gets the kind of audience it deserves. So if you get the chance; if it makes it into a cinema near you, go and watch The Tree. I think it would be worth your time and money.