Last Tree Standing short film review
A combination of cinematic styles and genres that coalesce into a heartbreaking story of survival, filmmaker Agnes Peel-McGregor's Fantasy movie short film Last Tree Standing is a throwback to the glory days of movies like The NeverEnding Story and Willow.
With an incredible visual landscape and impressive scale, audiences are transported into a dystopian fairy tale for the modern ages.
Sage Biros Jarmosco plays Lexie, a young girl attempting to survive the harsh landscape of a future world. With only two cruel scavengers as company, this is a lonely and harsh setting to endure. Until, that is, she meets Treeman (Lou Bolster) a half man half tree hybrid who may be the key to all our hope.
Fantastical and childlike in story, the style and atmosphere of Last Tree Standing is far darker than viewers may assume. The mise en scéne is brutal, with the characters occupying miserable and depressing locations and with very little light. It is only a marvellous #animated sequence in the middle, explaining Treeman's origins, which offers any semblance of brightness and colour. Peel-McGregor opts for a drab and grim canvas to tell her story yet the thematic depth is enough to elevate the tale from being a child-friendly The Road and instead something more akin to A Monster Calls.
The performances were uneven compared to the high production values of the #filmmaking. Biros Jarmosco was a decent lead and Bolster does okay with his physical performance but the scavengers played by Jada Foster and Steve Kennevan were cartoonish and a little wooden. This was further impacted by a score that at times felt too much like a TV-movie.
That being said, it was great to see a #fantasy film so ambitious with its storytelling as well as its filmmaking. Last Tree Standing touches upon several aspects of the human condition that are compelling, such as survival instincts, hope, and endurance, and placing the story in a allowed them to be explored without the usual #dystopian trimmings and hardships or brutality. Instead, this is a short film that rises to the occasion of delivering a hard-hitting plot whilst tapping into cinematic legacies from family film directors such as Steven Spielberg or Tim Burton.