The Willow Tree

2008-01-21 16:14
What it is about:

Youseff has been blind for 38 years, but is granted the miracle of sight when a corneal transplant restores it. Reunited with his family he is at last able to put faces to his wife, daughter, mother, friends and family who have been his caretakers and companions during his life as a blind man. But instead of being grateful, he is consumed with anger for the life he believes God deprived him of. He then finds himself drawn to younger women and abandons the love and support of his devoted wife and daughter.

What we thought of it:

The Willow Tree is a moving tale perhaps best understood in the context of Islam, a tradition the director Majis Majidi is familiar with. It touches on the teachings of the Sufi mystic, Rumi, whose writings speak of the need for spiritual surrender, gratitude and compassion.

When Youseff regains his eyesight after 38 years of blindness, his sudden introduction into the visual world is intense and emotionally overwhelming. The shock of the 'new' is portrayed by Majidi with great delicacy and even though the metaphors are often too literal they are extremely apt. Youseff severs himself almost completely from his previous identity and undertakes a selfish, if somewhat understandable, pursuit of a life he feels entitled to. Chasing the ephemeral he renounces the stability of his house and the wisdom of his books and finds himself alone and pathetic.

The story unfolds slowly and is heavily dependent on symbols and metaphors. Its great strength, however, is the director's success in dramatizing the way the robust visual world subdues and destabilizes a meaningful inner dialogue.

The Willow Tree is unique and will be insightful to anyone who is not convinced that individual success can be attained at the expense and exclusion of others. It reminds you that gratitude brings serenity and contentment. If that sounds too cheesy, this movie is not for you.

- Christina Carstens
When 45-year-old Youssef regains his eyesight he feels robbed of his life rather than gratitude for a miracle. He fumbles to find a new identity and turns his back on his past.

Nicola 2007/11/29 8:51 AM
Awesome Have not seen the movie yet, but the way in which you wrote the review would make it difficult for anyone to turn away from this film. Beautifully written!
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