Simão Vaz, Marketing Manager at East Dulwich Picturehouse reviews this week’s Discover Tuesdays’ title, The Olive Tree.
Federico García Lorca once wrote “Green how I want you green. Green wind. Green branches” – one of the many demonstrations of the author’s deep love for nature and, by consequence, the rural Spanish culture in the early 21st century.
Almost one hundred years later, a Scottish author demonstrates as big a love. Paul Laverty (I, Daniel Blake) writes the story of Alma (Anna Castillo), a 20-year-old girl whose love for her grandfather, a man who hasn’t spoken for years, takes her to want to recover a millenary tree that the family sold against his will. In order to succeed, she needs to rely on her uncle (Javier Gutiérrez) and a friend (Pep Ambròs) to find the olive tree in Europe and retrieve it.
The opening moments of the film establish the intrinsic sense of tradition and the value that something reaches once it passes from one generation to the other. These are concepts that are deeply rooted in countries like Spain and Portugal; they are part of the cultures’ DNA. So what happens to the generation of people that have to face a crisis? How much is history worth? How far is the millennial generation willing to go to keep the “green wind” green? These are the questions asked in The Olive Tree.
Icíar Bollaín (Even The Rain) crafts a road-trip film around the sense of ownership and tradition. And while the way the film is shot is incredible, switching from the warm, comfortable colour pallet of Spain’s countryside to an ever colder and unsettling spectrum as we reach more metropolitan areas, her best work, however, is in the way she directs the actors. Each one gives it their best, particularly Anna Castillo, whose performance will take you on such an emotional rollercoaster you won’t know what to feel like by the end.
Paul Laverty wrote an incredibly human script, set in a Spain ravished by an economic crisis, and uses it to explore the universal fight between sticking to the past and embracing the future. In a society that looks to have less and less accountability, Laverty tells us that we should always stick to our guns and stand up for what we believe in.