A few months back I talked about my intention to leave the major streaming platforms and move my family over to KweliTv. The presence of films like Shola Amoo’s The Last Tree made the transition easy for me and the family.
This film was so good I watched it once alone in my living room and by the end, let me tell you, it was giving ugly tears, okay. As a Black mother with a son there were so many themes that resonated: misplaced anger, hidden humanity, forgiveness, and love among others. I had to sit my son down and watch it together for a second time just to see how he responded to certain parts.
One of the prevailing themes of the film is identity and while I won’t spoil the film suffice it to say it’s a coming of age story with a twist where we get insight into not just the main character, Femi, but a intergenerational cast of Black males through their behavior as they interact with Femi. Thus, we are invited into the psyche of Black males’ journey and at times struggle to make meaning of themselves for themselves.
One of my favorite scenes is when Femi and another character share a moment through music and we literally witness a spark arrive in Femi’s eyes. In this moment we start to understand the interconnectedness that flows between us as men and women of the Diaspora; both impacted by a world that does not accept us yet in unique ways that in some moments robs us of our ability to support each other while at other times bond us closely together in unspoken moments.
Filmmaker Shola Amoo does a masterful job at conveying emotion through seemingly candid shots of the character’s faces as tensions build across scenes giving the viewer a peek inside the character’s misgivings, doubts, and intimate feelings.
Another filmmaking win is the contrast between life in the city versus more living amongst nature on the continent of Africa; Nigeria to be exact. Many Black Americans like myself have never been to the continent and many continental Africans haven’t lived in the Western cities. Needless to say our stories feel disconnected because of this physical distance. But Amoo as a visionary delivers an easily felt journey between the two that helps us see just how similar we are as Africans around the world. Not just because of the color of our skin but also the desperate need we have for community and space to breathe no matter where we live.
Five stars for The Last Tree and another reason I am glad I decided to #bingeontheculture.