Keswick Film Club - Reviews - The Olive Tree

Reviews - The Olive Tree

The Olive Tree

Reviewed By Ian Payne

The Olive Tree
The Olive Tree
The story may have been set in Spain but the premise behind it is relevant to any rural area. Ramon is an old man, a farmer whose family have had stewardship of their land for generations. Money is hard to come by and it seems as if modern farming methods are making Ramon's speciality, olive oil, uneconomic. His two sons have ideas to move on and diversify but Ramon's love seems to skip a generation as he showers his grand-daughter Alma with the love and affection he seemingly denies his own sons.

When those two men need capital to start a new venture, they sell Ramon's cherished 2000 year old olive tree, which had been growing on the farm since roman times, despite his protestations that it was not theirs to sell - it really belongs to the land itself. 8 year old Alma has to be prised out of its branches as the diggers move in.

10 years or so on, the business venture has failed and Ramon is in decline, mourning the loss of his beloved tree. Alma by this time is a wild teenager, hormones and emotions raging, whose love also skips a generation, detesting her father for what he did for Ramon and trying everything to coax her grandfather out of his depression. The whole family has been left scarred by that moment of economic opportunism.

As Ramon sits absently in his olive grove, Alma promises to find the tree and bring it home, convinced that this will restore the old man. Out of this seemingly dark scenario, what follows is a delightfully tragi-comic road trip as Alma, her uncle and would-be boyfriend take a low
loader on a quixotic rescue mission to Dusseldorf, where the tree now resides in the atrium of a multi-national company.

Screenwriter Paul Laverty, (who is a regular collaborator with Ken Loach, having written amongst other things, I, Daniel Blake) displays a light touch and keeps the audience guessing as to the ultimate outcome. Director Iciar Bollain keeps the camera's focus firmly on the young actress Anna Castillo who plays Alma, and who lights up the film throughout.

After the success of the opening film last week, it was good to see the Alhambra so full again for The Olive Tree and it seemed that the audience enjoyed it too, giving it over one hundred 4 and 5 star ratings and best of all, laughter out loud in the cinema. That is such a precious thing.

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