The Olive Tree is a heartwarming Spanish drama written by Paul Laverty, who has written many of Ken Loach’s films, and contains a similar mixture of politics and drama. The film details the efforts of young farmer Alma (Anna Castillo) trying to reclaim her ailing grandfather’s olive tree, which was sold by her family and is now a decoration in the lobby of a German company in Dusseldorf.
Whilst political issues are an important part of the film, they are more subtly intertwined within the overall plot. For example, selling the olive tree is briefly justified by Alma’s relatives as being necessary due to the increasingly widespread availability of olive oil elsewhere. However, the film’s second act reveals the company which now owns the tree are causing environmental damage.
Although, the film places a greater focus on Alma’s relationship with her grandfather and her conflicts with her friend Rafa and her uncle Alcachofa, who she travels with in his truck to Dusseldorf. This is emphasised in the flashback scenes between Alma and her grandfather as well as a later scene where she tearfully sings him a childhood song in an effort to get him to recover.
This personal aspect is helped by excellent performances, particularly from Castillo, who is convincing as a strong-willed, impulsive young woman, who is unafraid to stand up for her beliefs. The Olive Tree is engaging as a family drama and pro-environmentalist fable.
Sun 19 June, 6pm, Cineworld
Tues 21 June, 8.40pm, Odeon 4