The Last Tree @ Montreal International Black Film Festival

We all have a need to know where we come from. Where our roots are. Where our family before us were from. That ties us to people. To the part of the globe we call home. Some may see this as unimportant, but it truly is. Vital. Without it a human being can find themselves cut off and drifting aimlessly.

A young boy of Nigerian descent Femi (Tai Golding – first film), who is living a happy childhood in rural Lincolnshire. He is being brought up by a white woman named Mary (Denise Black – from television’s Coronation Street). She loves him and he her. Life is good. That is until his mother Yinka (Gbemisola Ikumelo – appeared in episodes of Sex Education and Broadchurch) comes back and takes him to London.

Their relationship is strained right from the get go. He is used to running in the fields with his friends and a loving maternal figure. Here he gets a largely absent working mother, who expects him to do chores.

The two grow further and further apart. Femi (Samuel Adewunmi – appeared in episodes of Prime Suspect 1973 and Doctor Who), now a teenager, is hanging around with the wrong types, getting in trouble inside and outside of school. At her wits end, his mother brings him back to Nigeria. There he meets his father, a wealthy pastor, who has another family.

Strongs points of the film include the visuals. Cinematographer Stil Williams makes the countryside of England and big city of London look great. Different, but great. Then there is the acting of young Samuel Adewunmi. Shows great promise. A tough kind of role with not a ton of dialogue though his character does have to say plenty.

The nature of identity. What it means to be black in Britain. Different areas of the country resulting in different treatment for Femi. What it means to be a man. All these questions are touched upon here. Femi finds himself struggling to figure out who he is and what his place in life is. We are often a product of our environment. Femi was a happy child in the countryside and angry turning to violence in the city.

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