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EIFF 2010 Film Review: Cherry Tree Lane

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Pricking The Bubble

But from the opening shot – the tink of piano, the ambient grumble, we’re aware that this illusion of safety is just that. When the doorbell first rings, the camera stays with the husband, muffling the conversation in the hallway. In fact, whenever something horrific is happening, it’s his company we keep. He’s emasculated, terrified and left to imagine the worst and so are we. Such is the incremental dread obtained from awkward mise-en-scene and interpolated social anxiety, a simple thing like a visitor causes dread. When the thugs return we’re prisoners for the duration of a real time siege, in which every sacred cow beloved of those that list the theatre and breastfeeding at Costa Coffee amongst their interests, is slaughtered with more enthusiasm than you’d find at the annual general meeting of the Francis Ford Coppola society.

It would be inconceivable that a black, knife wielding alpha male invader wouldn’t be a base conflation of libido and testosterone; culturally inert; and so he is. He tosses the couple’s collection of documentaries and foreign language dramas, made for a discerning female audience, seeking out the “18s and the pornos”. Unconstrained by civic or moral imperatives, he’s a slave to primal urges. The middle class audience expect him to rape the mother and he duly obliges. He’s observed polite society so can claim to be familiar with the cadences of their speech and shape of their fears. He toys with them, proclaiming “if you act like I’m going to hit you then I will”. When his girlfriend and her younger brother show up to join the gang, waiting for Sebastian to return, he pays lip service to respecting the fems with talk of “you’ve got to do what the lady says” in reference to his girl, but we know it’s patter because he’s already violated a real lady with a shrug of the shoulders and a “fuck it”. There’s a more sympathetic invader who’s familiar with the rudiments of morality, if not the application. He’s got a girlfriend so he won’t rape Michael’s wife but he won’t stop her being fucked either. He even brings his beleaguered captive a glass of orange juice. If only he was pacified by something other than an illegal narcotic.

Still, the audience isn’t fooled by his act of humanitarian ventriloquism and we wait for the arrival of the son for the horrific climax we’ve imagined for just over an hour. He duly arrives and is taken upstairs to be murdered but the Father escapes and, brutalised by his experience, punishes the savage for tearing the fragile fabric of his middle class hegemony and completing the process of emasculation begun by his wife’s extra-marital affair, killing his tormentor. Ostensibly, the gang were there to avenge their cousin, whom Sebastian “grassed” to the police in deference to the rule of law so sacred to the occupiers of Cherry Tree Lane, but as they flee, our class consciousness tells us that they’re little better than proud pack animals, as frightened and selfish, they leave the cub of the group behind. Will Michael, knife in hand, wait for the police to arrive and for order to be restored or will he, because he’s been degraded by contamination from a predatory group, kill the boy in retaliation for his family’s unnecessary exposure to the underclass?

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Directed by: Paul Andrew Williams

Country: UK

Year: 2010

Running Time: 78 mins

Certificate: 18


One Response

  1. Paul says:

    Thank you.

    Thant is on of the most intelligent reviews I’ve ever read of my work.