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Under The Tree

Two families. One tree. A bloody mess.

It has the escalating, claustrophobic structure of the darkest farce, but humor doesn’t pile up in “Under the Tree” so much as it bleeds out. In the course of Icelandic writer-director Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson’s memorably mordant third feature, savage black comedy passes almost imperceptibly into stunned, visceral tragedy — like a laugh turning in the throat and coming out as a choke. Charting an initially familiar battle of across-the-fence attrition between bad neighbors in polite surroundings, Sigurdsson gradually takes petty bourgeois tensions to alien, gasp-worthy extremes; what the film occasionally lacks in human finesse, it makes up for in sheer anything-goes resolve. The bleakness of its blackness might not portend a major crossover hit, but on the strength of both its universality and its singular Scandi irony, “Under the Tree” should spread its branches into international arthouses.

Courtesy: Guy Lodge, Variety

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Directed by: 
Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson
Running Time: 
Iceland, France
Icelandic with English Subtitles
Steinþór Hróar Steinþórsson, Edda Björgvinsdóttir, Sigurður Sigurjónsson
Official site: 
Screenplay by: 
Huldar Breiðfjörð, Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson

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