‘The Tree of Blood’ (‘El Árbol De La Sangrer’) | Film Review

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: February 8, 2019 (Last updated: December 16, 2023)
The Tree of Blood El Árbol De La Sangre Netflix Review


Even though laborious in parts, The Tree of Blood is a creative expression of the human condition.

The Tree of Blood, although interesting in parts, unfortunately falls short with lengthy scenarios and convoluted characters. A motley demonstration, in which quantity overrules quality in a bid to be to achieve a sense of profound grandeur.

A farmhouse in the north of Spain sets the scene for The Tree of Blood, in which a young couple, Marc and Rebeca, choose to discuss their family history in an attempt to rekindle their spark. The farmhouse has been a part of their families’ legacy for generations; they discuss and explain their own family roots in connection to one another, eventually leading to the reveal of a very complex and intriguing family tree. Given the title of the film it is not difficult to deduce that this family tree is anything but wholesome. As secrets begin to spill and dark truths rear their face, Marc and Rebeca must work to find positive common ground. Family’s are complicated and theirs more so than most, with tales of infidelity, drug habits and suicide contributing to their story, it is easier said than done to not make your families wrongdoings a part of your own shame and guilt.

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The Tree of Blood is alluring for sure, with beautiful art direction and cinematography the film certainly achieves a satisfying level of well-polished visuals. On the other hand, this can only compromise so much when it comes to the narrative being entertaining. With the plot spanning 25 years of history, The Tree of Blood often felt too intricate, with character after character being introduced only for you to forget who they were when they appear half an hour later. Understandably this could be a positive attribute for some moviegoers as the plot unfolds and the family connections begin to unravel. Piecing together the “then and now” and figuring out the path that ultimately led to the present day is only fun for a short while. With too many faces, names and scenarios scattered through different timelines, the narrative quickly becomes tedious in an effort to cover details in lieu of achieving an expansive account of events.

As previously mentioned The Tree of Blood is set in the North of Spain. This environment lends its beautiful landscapes as dramatic backdrops, providing meaningful juxtaposition for striking metaphors and sophisticated analogies throughout. Subtle color corrections and changes in hue give audiences a little nod to help understand where and most importantly when we are in the timeline of events. With the current day seemingly more bleak and cold compared to the rose-colored palette of the past, the transitions through time are seamless and add to the audience’s sense of immersion. The smooth changeovers from one time to another should be highly commended as they are blended perfectly as actors migrate throughout the scenes in single shot crossovers.

Rebeca is played by Úrsula Corberó, previously known for her role in Money Heist, also available on Netflix. Corberó plays a passionate young woman as she goes on a journey of self-discovery. An entertaining performance as she scratches at the surface of what it means to be Rebeca, the end result of a combination of unfortunate and unique paths her family took to be where they are today. Marc is played by Álvaro Cervantes, well versed in the world of small-time drama, he is not unfamiliar with complex and extensive narratives. In The Tree of Blood, Cervantes has proven himself more than worthy of the big screen; playing the cheeky and eager Marc, Cervantes shows a vulnerable side in the wake of tragedy. Corberó and Cervantes are joined by an expansive cast of talented actors all playing complex and intruding characters. Each owning the stage of their scene with marvelous subtlety and without hesitation to be expressively naked in their emotional and physical sense of authenticity.

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Overall, The Tree of Blood is unique in perspective, giving audiences a lengthy and indulgent narrative into the lives of a vast group of characters. Even though laborious in parts, The Tree of Blood is a creative expression of the human condition. Exploring themes such as heartbreak, loss, mental health, and infidelity makes The Tree of Blood a noteworthy piece of cinema that could open many doors for meaningful discussion. The aesthetics, reoccurring themes, and motifs work harmoniously for audiences to remember details and events through association. This being said The Tree of Blood is a lengthy undertaking that can ultimately become exhausting in pace, with a slow build and limited reveals audiences may become frustrated and inattentive. A recommended watch nevertheless, as it’s easy to become committed to finishing the film in order to discover the truth, to appreciate the results that may come from acting upon our deepest desires.

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