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Under the Tree — a mordantly funny movie from Iceland

Under the Tree — a mordantly funny movie from Iceland

August 09
14:53 2018

Thorsteinn Bachmann in ‘Under the Tree’

There are no deadlier turf wars than those between neighbours, as Under the Tree shows, a mordantly funny movie directed and co-written by Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson. Imagine a Mike Leigh film with fangs, directed in a style of Nordic deadpan. “Your tree is taking the sun from my back lawn”; “I’m a bit tired of cleaning up after your dog”; cue chainsaws, canine kidnap, and worse.

The main characters are an elderly couple fighting their next-doors, plus the couple’s sofa-crashing son from a broken marriage. The tone is bracingly unpredictable. By the end we have left our Cheshire Cat grins in the tree — what is left of it — and are confronting modern-dress Iceland’s answer to Jacobean melodrama. The tone of anthropological vigil tilts, slowly and skilfully, towards doomsday apocalypse.


The Financial Times Limited 2018. All rights reserved.

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