Filmed in rural Cork by Irish filmmaker Patrick O’ Shea, Tree Keeper is a bold film that attempts to stand on its own as a psychological thriller with the themes of violence, greed and environmentally conservatism. The question is can it compete with the Hollywood thrillers we encounter every week?
Tree Keeper tells the story of recluse Doire who has retreated to live in the woodlands he inherited when his father died. He is a solitary figure who is brought back into the world he despises when he discovers his estranged mother has sold off his land to a developer who wants to build a landfill. Doire is then thrown into a violent conflict in order to save his home, which has repercussions on both his life and that of his enemies.
This film makes a brave effort to match up to its foreign contenders in the genre by delivering a concise and through plot that overall holds together well. James Browne (Doire) gives a realistic performance as the disturbed and on edge protagonist. He holds the attention of the camera well and gives by far the best acting performance. The strong contrast between Doire’s quiet world of beauty in the woods and the cruel outside world is shown through the eyes of director of photography Rupert MacCarthy-Morrogh using all Cork’s rural landscape has to offer. The scenes in the woods are beautifully shot, which contrasts with the tough outside world of mistrust, cruelty and violence.
Orchestral music is used to capture the tense atmosphere for the violent scenes and to show Doire’s mental distress. Although the two leads carry the plot well; the support cast can at times looks amateur and stilted. The backstory is also hazy as Doire’s estrangement to his mother is mentioned but never explained. Other characters from the small town are also crucially missing details of their lives and place in the story.
Tree Keeper is, however, a fearless film that reaches the heights it has set itself and its star James Browne in particular should have a strong future ahead of him.
Ailbhe O’ Reilly
The DVD is also available in store at Plugd Records in the Triskel Arts Centre in Cork City.
The HD Download will be available from 21st November 2012.