Tree Of Hands Review

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After her child dies, London Resident Benet find her manic-depressive mother has snatched a child off the street to replace her grandson. The lives of the child's parents and hers seem to be then inextricably linked.


After the success of the TV series The Monoclad Mutineer and the 1987 feature Withnail and I, Paul McGann is hot. By comparison, British thrillers of recent years have had rather less fire in their bellies, and in Tree Of Hands, McGann finds himself trudging through another such offering –from a Ruth Rendell novel-which is all plot and no pace.

He is one of the more persuasive roles in this uneven London-based psychological thriller which finds Benet (Helen Shaver) coming to terms with the unexpected death of her child, and the ministrations of her manic-depressive mother (Lauren Bacall in fine twitchy form). After the funeral, Bacall impulsively snatches a toddler of the street and brings him back to Benet as a palliative.

When the story hits the tabloids, Bacall’s cheesy chauffeur (Firth) turns blackmailer, Benet falls in love, and finds her neat self-centred world grating uncomfortably against that of the stolen child’s kinky and immature mother Carol (Kate Hardie) and her boyfriend (McGann). The dramatic tension –such as it is- comes from watching these two worlds spinning inexorably towards eachother.

The opening three-quarters of an hour or so is simply hamfisted. Before you can make up your mind about Benet’s relationship with her son, the kid’s six feet under and the woman’s bundled up in blankets consoling herself with opera. After that the action ambles along until all the pieces are in place for the big finish. The film does accelerate a little towards the climax, but even when it comes, it doesn’t really hit he right spot.

This is the first feature financed jointly by Granada Film Productions and British Screen out of Greenpoint, and it’s a bold story. Shaver and McGann do their bit but the result is never moving enough o involve to interest you. All the ingredient s are there for a feast but the dish that director Giles Foster serves up is, unfortunately bland and tasteless.

All plot and no pace, this is a promising story blandly executed.