Friday, June 18, 2010

EIFF Premiere: "Cherry Tree Lane" (2010)

The first shot of "Cherry Tree Lane" is a pot of boiling water ever so slowly about to get too hot and spill over. It's a shot that echoes the feeling you get watching the rest of the film; that is, tension and anticipation for things to eventually get too heated and boil over completely.

This film written and directed by Paul Andrew Williams is purely an exercise in creating, building and sustaining an almost unbearable sense of suspense and dread. It is reflected in the cinematography that begins with a long shot of a couple at the dining table having an argument set to a simmer. Then suddenly the doorbell rings, the woman goes to the door and suddenly the house is being violently invaded by three teenage boys. Tight close-up shots of faces immediately become the normal style.

Largely resembling Michael Haneke's "Funny Games," it succeeds in developing an atmosphere that'll have you gripping the arm rests until your knuckles go white. Both features can't be considered anything near entertainment but rather an intense experience you only want to go through once.

One cannot help but compare the two films in their similarities, and while Haneke worked to comment on violence in the media, Williams' intention to put viewers through the torment is ultimately unclear. Commentary on youth culture is there, but none of it is worth the 79-minute running time except to leave you panting for breath.

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