Film Review: The Family Tree (dir. Jorge Ameer)
The Family Tree
Writer & Director: Jorge Ameer
The Family Tree is an independent Drama-LGBTQ feature film, written and directed by Jorge Ameer.
The film opens with an interesting structure, presenting one character after another, starting with Victor, a man who builds human-size dolls with explosives, as a part of a Panamanian holiday tradition. Victor, as we'll learn soon, is a good-hearted, generous man, and a workaholic animal rescuer.
Then, we meet Alina, Victor's ex-girlfriend (who is now his roommate), and Roy, a delivery boy dressed in a Santa Claus costume.
When a homeless man robs Roy while he beats him, Victor finds Roy fainted in the park, and picks him up at his house.
Roy wakes up, Victor takes care of him, and without saying too much, this intimate scene with the two men hints about the coming conflicts and theme.
The relationship between Victor and Roy builds up cleverly as the story progresses, to the point where the two are much closer. Despite the many contrasts between them (Victor: "I believe in faith, and you, do you believe in anything?" Roy: "I believe that I'm here now"), they immediately connect, and the chemistry between them seems natural throughout.
* Spoiler alert *
Without notice, Victor and Roy are revealed as a couple as they hold hands in a meeting with a wedding organizer.
From that moment on, conflicts arise, that will change the characters' life forever. Victor will find himself getting hurt by the people he loves the most, on his way to find the true meaning of love, friendship and family.
The relationship between Victor and Roy, and the love triangle with Alina, create some intriguing moments and dramatic incidents.
While the story works well, there are several problems with the film: From the low-quality audio recording to the inaccurate editing.
The performances by the three lead actors, Keith Roenke as Victor, Michael Joseph Nelson as Roy and Anais Lucia as Alina, are pretty solid, and better editing could help them be much more convincing and believable.
The pacing is good most of the time. However, with more precise editing, the film could be easily cut by 15-30 minutes.
To conclude, The Family Tree is Jorge Ameer's passion project, in which he worked very hard on, and undoubtedly put his heart and soul. It's far from being a perfect indie film, but it definitely has a lot of heart.
We enjoyed the story and its structure, from the characters' introduction to the dramatic climax, and we loved the positive message of the real things that are important in life.
The Family Tree won Best Original Story and was nominated for Best Picture at the New York Film Awards (July 2020). The film opens in theatres on November 6.
The Family Tree - Trailer
Finally, a few words from the creator, Jorge Ameer: The film is dedicated to my mother Mrs. Sybil B. Ameer. The hospital where I took care of my mother made special arrangements for me to be able to film a pivotal scene in the same room where she passed - room 7114 - this room will turn out to be central to the story."