Directed by Jorge Ameer/ Reviewed by Antonio Rozich
Drama movies have the tendency to be all over the narrative specter. Some of them turn out great and provide a relatable slice-of-life story, while some, end up with you wondering what the heck you’ve just watched.
The Family Tree by Jorge Ameer provides an unusual story with unexpected twists and turns that will make you wonder. But you won’t wonder what you’ve just watched. Instead, you’ll wonder how the themes found in The Family Tree never crossed your mind in the first place.
Before going into the story, I’d like to address the technicalities first. Ameer does a fantastic job of handling the mood of each scene. From an uneasy atmosphere in one scene, he manages to do a smooth transition to a lighthearted scene.
This is mostly due to the great usage of music and lighting. When you pay close auditory attention, you’ll realize some audio transitions are rough and instant. But as you watch the movie, you’ll hardly notice it. You won’t notice the roughness because the overall sensation creates a complete picture. A picture where you feel completely comfortable as your mood shifts with the one in the movie.
When it comes to the actors, Michael Joseph Nelson, Keith Roenke, and Anais Lucia did a great job. Roenke plays Victor, a veterinarian who suffers from depression. Nelson plays Roy, a man down on his luck trying to make ends meet. Victor hires Roy to deliver a birthday wish for his supposed friend, Alina played by Lucia. And that’s where The Family Tree story starts.
The focus for most of the movie is the relationship between Victor and Roy. Both are facing their own life problems. While Victor can’t get his head around his emotional problems, Roy is troubled by more material problems such as money and place to stay.
It’s there where Victor and Roy connect. Although Victor initially is the one who helps Roy by offering him a place to stay, it’s Roy who swoops in as a ray of hope for Victor’s unstable personality.
This “yin yang” of life problems creates an almost symbiotic relationship between the two men. As they get to meet each other better, the more they discover how rejuvenating they are for each other.
To some viewers, this may sound like a usual set piece for a drama, but Ameer manages to deliver a twist through numerous micro-events.
Each situation Viktor and Roy find themselves in is like a small chapter that reveals a new piece of the great puzzle. Each moment has the purpose of bringing their relationship up or down. It’s exactly that dynamic that keeps the viewer watching because you’ll wonder where Ameer takes the story next.
This is all rounded up by great dialogue. Besides managing to fluently move the story forward, the dialogue is sprinkled with witty character reactions that will you make giggle even when watching a serious scene.
Even in moments where the two protagonists are going through serious moments, you might find yourself smiling at what they say. It creates a weird experience you quickly learn to respect and get sucked into.
All of the mentioned elements limelight Ameer’s experience and skill as a director, producer, and writer. Creating simple yet convincing characters. Establishing serious moments, yet managing to make them entertaining for the viewer without sacrificing the drama.
The story tangles seemingly just to be untangled as the time moves forward. The only minor setback is rare moments of “slipped editing”. But due to masterful handling, it’s extremely possible almost nobody in the audience will ever notice the “slips”.
The Family Tree is a great drama for anyone who’s looking for an unusual yet completely relatable slice-of-life story.
If you’re looking for a movie that will probably pull you out of your comfort zone, but at the same time feel relatable, Ameer’s masterful piece of art is the movie for you.