Under the Tree (2017)

Good fences make very bad neighbors in Icelandic writer- director Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson’s black-frost comedy of suburban mores. It has the escalating, claustrophobic structure of the darkest farce […]. In the course of Icelandic writer-director Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson’s memorably mordant third feature, savage black comedy passes almost imperceptibly into stunned, visceral tragedy – like a laugh turning in the throat and coming out as a choke. Charting an initially familiar battle of across-the-fence attrition between bad neighbors in polite surroundings, Sigurdsson gradually takes petty bourgeois tensions to alien, gasp-worthy extremes […].

Sigurðsson and co-writer Huldar Breiðfjörð’s Chablis-dry script deftly staggers conflict not just across domestic walls, but between them, with points of argument ranging from patently absurd to distinctly raw. […] Talented, country- hopping cinematographer [Monika] Lenczewska […] opts for about the most washed-out palette available in each frame a half-erased palette that initially seems limiting but eventually connotes the pervasive extent of the characters’ respective emotional fugs. Daníel Bjarnason’s tart, brittle score makes clear from the outset that this is no cuddly dysfunctional family sitcom, though its yawning silences leave plenty of room for unsettled laughter.

Guy Lodge, Variety

  • Orig. title: Undir trénu
  • Language: Icelandic
  • Subtitles: English
  • Distribution: Scanbox Entertainment
  • Cinematography: Monika Lenczewska
  • Editing: Kristján Loðmfjörð