How Harry Became a Tree
Time Out saysA multinational production, set in Ireland, written and directed by a Serb, based on an ancient Chinese folk tale - this has more edge than the usual blarney. 'A man is measured by his enemies,' avows Harry (Meaney in expansive mode): so he picks on George (Dunbar), the most successful and beloved man in the village. Caught up in this one-way feud is Harry's gormless son Gus (Murphy), who has his heart set on marrying George's latest girl, a catch so precious even Harry agrees to trade half a field of cabbages for her. The union only quickens Harry's descent into paranoia, with disastrous results for most of the characters. Hard not to read this earthy black comedy as an allegory for civil war. Certainly it's propelled by a strain of Balkan madness, a belief that extreme conviction is its own rationale. That fits Ireland in the 1920s well enough. Like poteen, it's unsubtle but potent.