I’ve seen two films in the last week: The Last Tree and The Day Shall Come. Both had decent reviews.
One, The Day Shall Come is directed by Chris Morris who did The Four Lions which was very funny and tasteless. Like The Day Shall Come it was about a potential terrorist whose attempts at promoting his cause is hapless. He believes in non violence yet comes to the attention of the FBI who are looking to up their game and make a significant arrest of the home grown terrorist sort. I don’t think it was made clear why beyond for the self aggrandisement of the director in charge of operations and to put one over on the other services. I say that without much confidence as I have to hold my hand up and admit to a micro nap about ten minutes in after the admittedly drole beginning had flattened out a bit.
Still the film picked up a bit albeit it was full of a multitude of stereotypes and a myriad of tropes. There were the almost exclusively white police, FBI and law enforcement, the hapless black terrorists and the white supremacists. Most of the real baddies were the white guys and the other black ones were misguided or rather hopeless.
It began to build to a conclusion of sorts – a lock down at a donut shop where the chief protagonist of the terror group – The Sect of Six – found himself holding a dummy bazooka with the one almost sympathetic FBI Officer – white but a woman – trying to persuade him to put it down and all the agglomeration of bad guys (Yep white men in ties and or uniforms) willing him to pull the trigger….
Meanwhile in the Last Tree we had a coming of age story of a young black kid being brought up in a rural northern idyll by his foster mum before his real mother turns up and takes him back to her small grim flat in a London Highrise where he experiences a rude awakening at school and on the mean streets. He goes to the bad, then back to the good and gets the girl. It was okay, though I can think of any number of similarly structured films. Then, at the very end his mother, who hasn’t spoken of his estranged father takes him back to Nigeria, the country of their birth to meet this man who he has hated in absentia. The idea is to hand him over to his father who will ensure he has a far better, more affluent life now his son has fully grown. We all expect him to reject that expectation and he does…
You know I’ve rarely seen two films whose endings have jarred quite like these two. Spoiler alert if you want to see these films. In The Day Shall Come the black hero pulls the trigger, he’s taken down and we’re told in the last frame he is sentenced to 35 years with his wife and supporters given the usually long sentences beloved of the US penal system while all the white guys get huge promotions and advancements. I can quite imagine this happening but this really just emphasises that this isn’t a comedy with subtle political notes but the chunkiest piece of political proselytising I’ve seen in I don’t know how long. I even felt a bit guilty that I’d laughed earlier, as if I’d been conned in supporting anything quite so unnuanced. Yes it was a comedy but the joke was on me.
In the Last Tree – and by the way if you go, what the fuck is the title about? There aren’t any bloody trees so far as I noticed that play any sort of role here – the young man’s father is a corrupt pastor of some hugely successful evangelical church who had an affair with his maid and sent her and her son abroad only to have them back ostensibly to retrieve his son on his maturation. I felt so bloody cheated. Now there was an intriguing story line and yet it got about three minutes out of 140 and was never followed up. A bland, see it, done it movie could have been unique but nope, we were stuck with endless shots of grim weeping concrete, gratuitous violence, misunderstood youth, inspiring teachers and a youngster who sees the light.
Bugger. And I had such high expectations of both….