The Establishing Shot: Cherry Tree Lane Review

Saturday, October 16, 2010 Craig Grobler 0 Comments

I really didn’t know anything about Cherry Tree Lane before I saw it other than it was from Director Paul Andrew Williams maker of the gritty but very promising – girls on the run London to Brighton, the astounding The Cottage (which I had not seen at the time of the Cherry Tree Lane) screening and The Children a tale of our darling little ones turning on us.

Cherry Tree Lane is about a duplex on Cherry Tree Lane a married couple live there with their son. A typical London family unit. We voyeuristically drop in on the couple as they are preparing for dinner after a work day, the small talk, discussion about whether the TV should be on or not during dinner and some subtext riddled work related chit chat. The door bell rings, friends of their son are looking for him. Back to the table for some more uncomfortable chit chat the doorbell rings again and this time their world is plunged into chaos as they are beaten, tied up and held hostage.

What follows is frustratingly painful to watch – for two reasons. Cherry Tree Lane is a tense home invasion film, reminiscent of a hardcore 70s thriller. It borders on snuff and feels uncomfortably real. It’s also frustrating as the very terrifying threat is delivered by a bunch of young hoody types. The types that hangs around thinking that trying to be menacing gives them credibility. And we pass off as it’s a phase or just the youth not knowing better. No I haven’t just finished reading The Daily Mail I’m trying to convey that the gang is a bunch of kids that veer from seemingly normal – not being able to work out how to use a remote control and calling mom to Sky+ a TV show to despicably cruel and brutally violent.

Turns out that Sebastian (the son) witnessed some criminal dealings, this information led to someone going to jail for a very longtime. And retribution for this has to be enforced. There are some great moments of dark humour and flashes of great acting.

Unfortunately the other reason it was painful to watch is that it feels a little too much like a stilted play – I’m unsure if it’s because most of the action takes place in one room (the same room where the couple were eating their dinner) or if it’s the camera work, not allowing the actors to shine. Either way it was hard work to watch.

I managed to catch a QA with Paul Andrew Williams and some of the cast and Williams let on that inspiration behind the film was a burglary nearby his home and the realization that there was little to do but comply in a mugging during his younger days. I suspect that as painful to watch as Cherry Tree Lane is, it possibly captures the scenario quite well.

Cherry Tree Lane Review

Director: Paul Andrew Williams
Starring: Rachael Blake, Tom Kane, Jennie Jacques, Tom Butcher, Jumayn Hunter

More info:Over at the Cherry Tree Lane website