A film without much sex, violence or foul language might not sound like a feast of fun to some but The Olive Tree, a quirky, leisurely-paced and bitter-sweet story of a ballsy young Spanish woman who sets out to find and bring back her family’s ancient olive tree for her dying and catatonic grandad is endearing and affecting.
To do this our fearless and determined heroine, Alma, convincing played by the attractive 22 year-old Anna Castillo, has to enlist the help of her tough-talking, soft-centred uncle Arti, another impressive turn by Javier Gutierrez, and co-worker Rafa, who rather more than likes her (strong support from Pep Ambros). From flashbacks we learn that the thousand year old tree that was so much a part of Alma’s childhood was torn up and sold when she was still growing up to raise money for the family farm and years later ended up a centerpiece in the reception of a global energy company in Dusseldorf, over a thousand miles away. Alma decides not to tell her two travelling companions this last important detail but says she has found it in a churchyard in the German city, and with the aid of a forged letter convinces them that the vicar wants them to collect it and bring it back to Spain.
Cue tears, laughter and recriminations, and if the outcome of the final confrontation between energy company suits and human beings doesn’t jerk a tear or three then you may need to check your soul for holes.
The Olive Tree was released by Eureka Entertainment in mid-April, was written by Paul Laverty (The Wind that Shakes the Barley, Sweet Sixteen, The Angel’s Share) and directed by Iciar Bollain.