The Oak Tree - Short Film Review

★★★★

Directed by: #EthanJahan

Written by: #GhaziRabihavi

Starring: #AntoineBalabane, #MarounCherfane, #YannDelage, #MohammadKarra, #PaulSleiman, #TarekYaacoub

Short Film Review by Taryll Baker

Poster for The Oak Tree

People can react unexpectedly to extreme beliefs and misread information, whereby relating to circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief. This is known as post-truth concept. The Oak Tree is a film that’s relevant today in a world where information can be heavily distorted.


The Oak Tree is a stunningly crafted short film, with a great blend of interesting yet simple concepts and a lush colour palette that brushes the screen ever so gently. Amongst its dirty nature is a subtle existence of true beauty; the trees, the landscapes, the wind blowing through chimes, the well-walked paths and backstreets. Following an older man who seemingly crafts goods from wood, he is in need of the perfect branch and after a trek into the plains, he finds just what he’s looking for. Except that branch is attached to a holy tree that the townsfolk worship as a religious symbol. As the film ticks along at its graceful pace, the man fights with faith and finds more than just a branch; something lies deeper in its roots.


This cast is sublime. Even though there isn’t a huge amount of verbal material for these characters, the emotions are struck well and the “feeling” which of course seems to be the focus in Jahan’s work is exceptional. A fluent splash through a man’s biggest decision yet. He must choose between trade and faith, in a wonderfully executed performance by Paul Sleiman. Fadel is seen watering his plant at home towards the beginning of the film, and by the end it is withering away without his presence. His attention is drawn away from simple things and thrown into a spin of new concepts and ideals. Like a sheep, his interest is piqued as he follows the herd.

Featuring a luscious music score by Louai Alhenawi and Benjamin Ellin, paired with the vibrant visuals, this is truly one of the most well made short films in recent years. Jahan’s direction alongside Rabihavi’s writing is a real treat. Though it’s a very easy film by most standards, the structuring of scenes and the effortless camerawork by Yiannis Manolopoulos makes for a pleasing watch. The Oak Tree spends most of its time with the old man as he decides on which path to follow, and the climax is left fairly unclear, though satisfying and open to thought.


The Oak Tree does everything well, in all honesty. Though you may not be a religious person, you should find enjoyment at least in the craft, and there’s a fine amount of detail within it to be sure. Jahan is a striking filmmaker and it will be very interesting to see what comes up next for him. In some ways his style is reminiscent of Malick, so that’s a niche that will most definitely find its audience.


Watch the trailer for The Oak Tree here.


- #TaryllBaker