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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
No real positive messages.
Positive Role Models
No positive role models.
Violence & Scariness
(Warning: Some spoilers.) Two neighbors fight with a nail gun, box cutter, pitchfork, and a wrench -- both punched, kicked, shot, sliced, and cut open until falling down bleeding and dead. Man takes a chainsaw to a large tree, cutting it down; it falls over and onto a man who is sleeping in a tent, killing him. Woman steals her neighbor's dog and has him put to sleep; she gets him stuffed and places the dog's body on the neighbor's front stoop. Estranged married couple gets into a heated argument at their child's school; the father smashes a cell phone by throwing it on the ground. Reckless driving -- man in pursuit of his estranged wife on the highway. Family talks of the presumed suicide of their older son.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A woman walks in on her husband on the verge of masturbating while watching a video on his computer of him having sex with his ex-girlfriend. Nudity -- female breasts. During a condo owners meeting, man complains at length about the loud sex his neighbors have, says he can hear them say things like, "finger up the ass."
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Occasional profanity. "F--k" used twice. "Bulls--t," "dogs--t," "goddamn," "bitch," "hell," "ass."
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Products & Purchases
Father and daughter have a picnic in front of an Ikea parking lot.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Whiskey, wine drinking. Cigarette smoking. Vaping.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Under the Tree is a 2017 Icelandic dark comedy in which the squabbles between neighbors escalates into increasingly bizarre and violent behavior. A woman walks in on her husband on the verge of masturbating to a video of him having sex with an ex-girlfriend. Bare breasts are shown. (Warning: Spoilers.) In the movie's climactic scene, two neighbors fight with a nail gun, a box cutter, a wrench, and a pitchfork -- the two punch, kick, then slice and stab each other until they are bleeding, then fall over dead. A man takes a chainsaw to a tree until it falls over, accidentally landing on a tent in which a man is sleeping; the man is killed. A woman steals her neighbor's dog, has him put to sleep, then gets it stuffed at a taxidermist and puts the dog's body on the front doorway of the neighbor's house. Some profanity, including "f--k" used twice. Cigarette smoking, vaping. Wine and whiskey drinking. Also, one of the movie's stories concerns a married couple going through a very difficult separation that also involves a young child. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Under the Tree manages to be both a dark satire of petty neighborhood squabbles and a dark drama exploring how one tragedy can ripple out to create more tragedies. At the root of the two stories is an adult son (never seen) who has gone missing and is presumed dead from suicide. His younger brother Atli has sunk into a torpor that culminates in him getting caught by his wife watching himself have sex with an ex-girlfriend during, presumably, a happier time in his life. His mother, Inga, chain-smokes and drinks wine all day, venting her repressed despair on her neighbor Konrad and his second and much younger wife Eybjorg. While Atli is kicked out of the house and trying to find a way to see his young daughter and perhaps even save his marriage, Inga and her husband Baldvin gets into an increasingly violent and bizarre war with the neighbors. Hilarity doesn't ensue so much as shocked surprise at the great lengths these characters go to channel their problems.
It's the kind of quiet, gray, understated suburbia-gone-wrong story that gives the proverbial art house theater a reason to exist. Furthermore, setting the movie in suburban Reykjavik adds the kind of "all is not well in Paradise" irony that was once the province of 1950s American suburbia. Which seems fitting for the second decade of the 21st century: While it's a foregone conclusion that America isn't the "happy place" it was once believed to be, it makes more sense to satirize the tensions lurking underneath suburban bliss in Scandinavia, where the happiest people on earth are supposed to be living these days. Overall, Under the Tree is an excellent, unforgettable movie with some unexpected and unimaginably dark twists.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.