Reputedly a thousand years old, the venerable tree at the heart of the touchingly bittersweet Spanish drama El Olivo (The Olive Tree) proves a supple symbol for Europe’s economic woes and its relationship with the past, and for the roots of a family’s discord.
The film’s spunky young heroine, Alma (Anna Castillo), has made it her mission to save the tree. Up until ten years ago, it stood on her family’s farm in northern Spain. Then hard times forced her father to sell it for replanting and Alma’s beloved grandfather hasn’t spoken since.
Convinced he is mourning the tree’s loss, not simply suffering from Alzheimer’s, she sets off on an impulsive quest to retrieve it from its new home – a multinational energy company’s HQ in Dusseldorf – accompanied by her exasperated uncle Arti (Javier Gutíerrez) and besotted admirer Rafa (Pep Ambròs).
Working from a script by her partner, Paul Laverty (Ken Loach’s regular screenwriter), director Icíar Bollaín has crafted a modern-day fable that is gently comic and genuinely stirring.
Certificate 15. Runtime 98 mins. Director Icíar Bollaín
The Olive Tree debuts on Sky Cinema Premiere on Wednesday 8 November.