Directed by Dave Thomas Starring Cheryl Allison, Gabriel Rush, Angie Bolling, & Michael Hunsaker Short Film Review by Chris Olson
Deeply affecting and superbly filmed, short film Far From The Tree is a story about coming to terms with intense grief in your past and the way it can destroy your relationships with the people you love in the future. Abbie (Cheryl Allison) is a seemingly typical single mother when we meet her at the beginning of Far From The Tree. Her smart-mouthed teenage son Evan (Gabriel Rush), seems to have a relationship with his mother that would mirror that of any number of mother and teenage son relationships - witty backchat and teen angst being his main hobbies. However, we soon see that Abbie stumbles slightly when it comes to performing her maternal duties. Forgetting to pick Evan up from football practice, driving her pick-up truck with a beer in the holster are just some of the initial signs that all is not well with our heroine. The cause of Abbie's unrest seems to be the arrival of a man (Michael Hunsaker) across the way, whom was the source of a violent moment in her past, and one that played a significant part in her current relationship with Evan. Few short films ever deliver on this scale. The story and screenplay penned by David B. Kear, and additional writing from Dave Thomas (the latter also directs here), has some exquisite moments of pathos, navigating a truly emotional story with believable characters, motivations and plot points. The performances are simply incredible. Allison manages to tell her character's whole backstory simply through troubled facial expressions, but also gives a handful of impressive sequences opposite Rush as the two wrangle with this heartbreaking relationship. Rush is formidable in this role, playing it understated when necessary and then putting his foot to the floor when given the right opening. Cinematically you could utterly lose yourself in Far From The Tree. The music, supplied by none other than Moby, is such a wonderful accompaniment to the sequences, layering them with increased tone and emotion to really pull the viewer in. Some of the cinematography, from Oren Soffer, is totally arresting, such as the use of lens flare during one moment of breakdown in a field, or a simple rising shot of a kitchen counter. These delicate and intricate moments reveal a degree of attention to detail which is often missing in short films that attempt to tell harrowing stories. Too often, the bulk of the heavy lifting is done by the sheer force of the plot’s horrific narrative, whereas here, the filmmakers have not ignored the craftsmanship and skill of what can only be described as a gifted cast and crew.
Watch the official Movie Trailer for Far From The Tree above.
There was only one scene where the momentum was slightly lost, luckily it is quite early in the film. A scene between Abbie and her aunt (Angie Bolling) in the kitchen felt a little “TV Movie” in terms of the dialogue. That being said, there was a necessary expositional quality to this scene which paid dividends later on.
A genuinely moving drama that boasts phenomenal performances, from those both in front and behind the camera, Far From The Tree delivers on so many levels that movie fans will not be able to escape its intelligent and formidable filmmaking.