'Under the Tree' or When Deadpan Aesthetics Meet Rusty Saws
‘Under the Tree’ is a quirky and wonderfully minimal Icelandic noir that will leave you with an awkward feeling.
Under the Tree (Undir trénu) is the fourth feature film of the Icelandic director Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson. It tells two intertwined stories: one of Agnes and Atli whose marriage is facing a crisis and one of Inga and Baldvin, who start an undeclared war with their neighbours over a tree in their backyard patio. That tree becomes the pillar around which the film unfolds, leading to a serious conflict.
What makes Under the Tree particularly appealing is not only the uncomfortable, funny-not-funny moments – triggered by the overall lack of communication between the characters –, but also the director’s ability to capture the essence of the filmic grammar. In a world full of empty dialogues and uninspired shots compensating for the lack of creativity, Sigurðsson tells a whole different story with just a single shot.
If deadpan aesthetics, inescapable nihilism, and rusty saws sound like a good combination, you are going to enjoy this film (or get into trouble at some point). You can watch Under the Tree on Prime Video, MUBI, and Google Play.
Watch also: Bwakaw (2012), a bittersweet take on ageing and loneliness.