‘Tree Man’ Movie Review

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‘Tree Man’ Movie Review

Nolan Patton, Video Editor

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Tree Man is a Canadian documentary that was released in 2015 (2016 for America), directed by Jon Reiner and Brad Rothschild. The movie is about the Christmas tree business, and captures the lives of “tree men” and “tree women” who drive into the city every year to sell trees at a stand. The film shows many different tree men and women, but focuses mainly on one salesman, named François.

Every year during the Christmas season, François drives from Canada to New York City to sell Christmas trees on the sidewalk. The 82-minute documentary spans the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day, showing viewers what François’s life is like during that time, while also occasionally branching off to let other salesmen share the spotlight.

This movie is a great look into Christmas as a holiday in the present day. Tree Man never tells the viewer how much money the salesmen make, instead opting to focus on the emotional sacrifices and rewards of the job. The main takeaway from the film is how much the tree men and women have to give up from their own home lives to improve the holiday season for so many others. There’s no narration by the filmmakers, as the story is told through interviews with various people, and many times just clips of footage without anything added aside from music. In fact, many of the movie’s most powerful moments are in those sections where nobody is talking to the viewer, and the raw story just unfolds itself on film, with a fitting score to back it up. Tree Man is definitely on the slower side, but in my opinion it usually works as a fitting atmosphere for the holiday spirit. Sometimes though, the movie can suffer from this style, as it slows down the pacing in some parts and makes the less interesting sections seem a little bit boring. When it works, though, it works amazingly well. One of the last shots of the movie takes place after Christmas, and it shows François’s two young helpers watching, empty expressions on their faces, as all of the Christmas trees in the neighborhood are brought to a large machine and turned to mulch in front of them. Scenes like this are what make the movie impactful.

Overall, there’s something about Tree Man that just seems so Christmassy. Even though the film doesn’t shy away from the negative side of the holiday, the positive side more than makes up for it. The salesmen in the documentary always travel down to New York City (with the exception of the two who live in the city) every year, despite the sacrifices they have to make to do their job. There are so many small moments where the spirit of the holidays is depicted in the simple acts of people coming together to improve each other’s lives, like the woman who makes François meals and lets him shower at her house. Tree Man is guaranteed to get you into the Christmas spirit, with the impressive amount of raw human emotion that it manages to get out of a story about people selling trees in New York.

I rate Tree Man a 7.5 out of 10. It’s a little bit rough in terms of filmmaking, but it just adds to the charm for the most part. If you can make it through the slow, atmospheric parts of the movie, you’ll find this small-scale story is something worth experiencing this holiday season.

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