ailing patent attorney is about to take the Mediterranean Diet one step
further. He might have heard about the benefits of olive oil, but it is the
leaves that can really work miracles. Of course, they are not just from any
olive tree. They are from the olive
tree. Even lawyers and pharmaceutical executives will start to have faith in
Ante Novakovic’s Leaves of the Tree (trailer here), which screens
during the 2015 SOHO International Film Festival.
seems inevitable for Patrick Messina, since his ticker is even less reliable
than Fred Sanford’s. He has already turned over most of his cases to his
partner, Joe Buffa (great name), but he is keeping one. His Big Pharma client
has been approached by the mysterious Sicilian, Dr. Ferramonti, who can
document the healing powers of an ancient olive tree on his estate. If Messina’s
client can isolate the miraculous active ingredient, they can save vast numbers
of life and make a good chunk of change. Once they do that, Messina can start
drafting up papers or something, but until then, he and his wife Sweetness will
enjoy living the good life in Ferramonti’s villa.
only Messina’s daughter Danielle seems to be doing any work on this trip. She
is just a research intern at the company, but she is the one putting in all the
lab time. The company president also made the trip, but she will get distracted
by Hank, Ferramonti’s houseguest and self-appointed guardian of the tree. He’s
sort of a cross-between Kato Kaelin and a Templar Knight. However, he will have
to get serious when a hardline faction within the Vatican makes a play to
control access to the tree.
this film needs is more Joe Buffa, because he is played by Armand Assante, who
always commands the screen. Assante also appeared in Novakovic’s short film, The Fix, which played at the 2013
Bosnian-Herzegovinian Film Festival in New York. The charming festival
organizers were quite taken with Assante when he attended the screening, so
that’s good enough for us.
is dependable as ever and so is Eric Roberts, playing against type as Messina.
He seems to enjoy being the decent and loving family man for a change, but
nobody makes a better drug-addled psychopath, so he should not make a habit of
more wholesome roles. Regardless, he and Sean Young develop some quite agreeable
chemistry together, genuinely feeling like a comfortably married couple. Federico
Castelluccio also brings some real gravitas to the film as Dr. Ferramonti, but
most of the rest of the cast is mostly just serviceable.
must have had an amazing time scouting locations for Leaves, because it amply capitalizes on the Sicilian backdrops. At
times, it is like scenery porn. Novakovic and cinematographer John Schmidt
clearly have great eyes for visuals. While the narrative is a bit clunky at
times, the way it echoes elements of the Fisher King legend is surprisingly
compelling. It is also refreshing to see a film that casts the pharmaceutical
company executives as the good guys.
is pleasant enough if not exactly exceptional,
but its upcoming screening at the Temple of Segesta (which appears in the film)
sounds like an amazing event. If you can attend, by all means do so. Its upcoming
domestic festival screenings will seem conventionally pale in comparison.
Still, it is nice to see a film that takes faith seriously, but also has
considerably more polish and verve than the sort of fare typically released for
the Christian market. Worth a look for those interested in Sicily and Christian
Mystery, Leaves of the Tree screens
tomorrow (5/17) and Wednesday (5/20) during this year’s SOHO International Film
Labels: Armand Assante, Eric Roberts, SOHO '15