3 May 2010 | BERSERKERpoetry
A good-looking film drowned beneath stereotypes and shameless bad acting.
I'm a big fan of simple films for their ability to distill basic humanity on screen, but "The Education of Little Tree" crosses the line into simplistic. The acting is way too much of the "golly, gee-whiz!" variety for my taste. The good guys are GOOD, the bad guys are BAD. The bad guys litter, and do obvious "bad guy stuff". The characterizations are so clear and flat that they border on the insipid. Nearly every minor role is a stereotype we've all seen a hundred times before. The preacher, the teacher, and the politician are all examples of laziness on the part of the director. Richard Friedenberg hasn't the slightest concept of subtlety, letting each and every performance go way off the deep end. Even the children (who seem to have been picked for cuteness only) wander their way through with mouths agape in a grotesque mockery of real emotions. There are a couple great actors here, though. James Cromwell and Graham Greene are a welcome sight, and there's nothing particularly at fault with their performances. Cromwell, especially, deserves a better film.
The clichés keep coming as the film progresses. The old "magic Indian" idea is brought up again, something that seems to appear in the majority of such films - and states that all members of the native population must be wise storytellers and able to appear and disappear at will. The one good point is the cinematography, by Anastas Michos. This is a very nice looking film, if nothing else. It could almost be worthwhile as a silent collection of moving photographs. That's just about all it has to offer in the end.