Under the Tree (2017) - 8/10
Updated: Apr 25, 2021
Wow! This really is quite something. A dark, tense Icelandic dramatic thriller with a dry comic streak. After an argument with Agnes (Edda Björgvindóttir), Alti (Steinpór Hróar Steinpórsson) is kicked out of their flat. He’s caught watching an old sex-tape of an ex and finds the locks changed. So he goes to stay with his parents who are in the midst of a squabble with their neighbours over a tree that’s casting too much shade. You’d think the troubled marriage would be the more serious plot point, but you’d be wrong. It uses its humour to great effect, twisting the narrative wonderfully. In fact it feels very close to dry British humour. There’s an honesty to it and although it’s undoubtably Scandinavian, the muted colour palette gives it that dark gritty British tone. The two plots escalate rapidly with a custody battle, slashed tyres, missing pets, a missing brother, security cameras, suggestive gnomes, chainsaws, it gets brutal... really really brutal. Uncomfortably brutal and although it’s quite stark and simple, it takes the viewer to some really unexpected places. Be nice. Talk it out. Otherwise you might regret it.