Overly Honest Movie Reviews’s review published on Letterboxd:
TV-PG - 3 out of 5 stars
Year Released: 2022
Runtime: 1h 42m
Director(s): Jason Sherman
Where To Watch: Digital and VOD 7/29
A different type of documentary about one man's journey of discovery: yeah, I left that pretty vague because it’s such a unique and interesting story. In short, the film is about a Canadian Jew searching for a key to his past, a tree planted in Israel 40 years ago. While on the outside, that doesn’t sound overly intriguing, the film dives into so many parts of his journey that it creates more than the surface-level story. There are as many questions asked as there are ones answered in this film.
What would you do if you found an arbitrary part of you was ultimately some part evil. Even though you weren’t aware of it? It is an exciting story because it raises many questions about who we are as people and what our past means to our present. Are you responsible for an action evil or not that was done in your name? What would you do if you found an arbitrary part of you was ultimately some part evil.
A story that innocently enough begins with a bar mitzvah gift ends in a journey of resolution and doing what’s right. The irony is that this film is the story of director Jason Sherman’s obsession over this gift, what it meant for him, and what it meant for the country of Israel where the tree was planted.
This story quickly evolves into something much more than hunting for his tree when he realizes the truth of where the tree likely was planted. While he partially blames himself, the film is used more as an eye-opening experience to show some “uncomfortable historical truths” and how someone responds to this learning moment. At the same time, Sherman is known as a multi-award-winning playwright, his take on directing turns out to be more than anyone could have guessed. It shows that even the smallest of things can lead to more when looked into.
I often will point out when I think a film would be a good opportunity for someone to dive into subtitles. I had a hard time with subtitles when I started watching international movies. This would have been a great stepping stone; there is a hand full of scenes that make use of subtitles while the majority of the film is in English.
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