Written and directed by Tomas Gold, walking a great distance, he pondered his process and the inspiration around him, starring Liam Casey.
One tricky style of film to make is one that can say plenty without really having to say anything at all, and that’s what Tomas Gold achieves here. While it almost entirely avoids dialogue, it retains a sincere relatability, it requires no context at all to be able to sympathise with the poderings of dilemmas, stresses or struggles its protagonist is going through. It uses a simple yet elegant style to make an interesting statement about mental health and how we’re influenced either positively or negatively by our environment. There’s a huge contrast between the story as it moves from the city to the woods, transitioning from a loud, busy, intrusive environment to a peaceful, almost poetic one.
An element which enhances that contrast even further is the use of sound, it’s again simple but highly effective. Showing the comparison in a quick movement from one location to the other provides a naturally stark divergence. Using a lack of sound rather than trying to manipulate it is a superb technique to impact the atmosphere and emotion of a scene and here it’s used very well. It’s also matched by the performance of Liam Casey who keeps the portrayal to subtle emotions. You can sense the distress and difficulties he’s dealing with through his body language, rather than trying to outwardly expose those feelings through dialogue or more obvious expression.
There are a number of elements that come together to make the directorial style of Composing the Trees work extremely well. The first being the blend of artistic and everyday, the tone never becomes overly metaphorical or stylistic, but it has an eye for detail and variety in its choice of angles that bring a strong, thoughtful atmosphere, while giving a personable perspective. It has a slow, meandering pace which does justice to the pensive nature of the story. It also refuses to dull the everyday rabble of the city, it’s not quite aggressive but as a solitary example, it especially highlights the intruding sounds that go along with the setting.
Composing the Trees is a clever and relatable interpretation of mental health and stress. It scales back its story to one layer then develops it with the directorial style and performance by Liam Casey. It’s artistic in style, the movement is thoughtful and there’s a great variety to the direction that keeps things moving forward against its patient pace. It’s a simple story executed well by its number of smart choices to enhance and explore the different emotions which it explores.