It might be perplexing to find a film with a narrative center based on the periodical arguing of an elderly couple about the need of chopping, or not, one of the acacia trees in front of their house. Through the (poetic) register of his parents’ everyday life —from the Spring of 2004 to the Fall of 2005— Gustavo Fontán manages to capture a decision-making process in an elliptical though verifiable (through the sound) manner right to the last second of the feature. The whole film happens in a house in the city of Banfield; and while they decide what to do with the tree the dominating mood is not claustrophobia but some sort of joyful naturalism which transforms this family house into a cosmic scenario.
El árbol belongs to a filmic tradition where contemplation is a working method through which the physical beauty of the world is found in those things which are visible, but not quite. A shot of bees around a tree, ants floating on rain water at the patio, a storm hitting against the window, all of these are traces of a transformation process. The sequence where the two members of this couple go to sleep and the tic-tac of the clock in the living room becomes ubiquitous summarizes the obsession for grasping the present moment in its complete duration. That awesome moment is prefigured in the scene where the couple checks slides, a scene where this director’s poetics of sound can be appreciated. Fontán discovers cinema’s power to snoop into time and into the mutation of living creatures as they endure.
Right at the beginning of the film, a quotation of the poet Juan L. Ortiz announces a poetic path; El árbol is a meditation on what it means to inhabit a place, and that implies showing a structural relation between time and being. “Poetically, man dwells on this earth,” was said by Hölderlin and this sentence could have easily been uttered by Ortiz and materialized by Fontán.

Credits

Producer: סטלה צ'רניאקיץ', סטלה פורטאן | Production Company: TERCERA ORILLA e INCAA | Script: גוסטבו פונטאן | Cast: unknown | Camera: דייגו פולרי | Editing: מרקוס פסטור