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The Wishing Tree



Director: Laura Adamo

Stars: Laura Adamo, Sebastien Roberts, Altair Vincent, Jake Michaels

Released:  Dec. 7, 2021 (streaming)

Inspired by true events in the life of first-time director, actress Laura Adamo—who, unafraid to bare it all, also stars—this emotionally raw and heartfelt drama is framed by crisp camerawork by Eric Oh in the remote forestry of northern Ontario in Canada and original music dialogue by Michelle Osis.  An intimate, character-driven film in the spirit of The Big Chill or St. Elmo’s Fire.

When a lifetime of disappointments leads Julia (Adamo) to a breaking point, she unceremoniously leaves her strained marriage behind to embark on an arduous hiking expedition to find herself—and to search for the legendary Wishing Tree to look for answers. Along the way, she encounters an old high school flame, Caleb (Roberts) and his friend Ryan (Vincent), lost in the woods, both struggling with their own truths. Thrown together, they are each forced by the others with sometimes brutal candor to examine their lives and look for the redemption that only honesty and acceptance can offer.

An underlying sense of betrayal and enduring pain is always near the surface and quietly trails the threesome like a predator, looking for an opportunity to erupt, each of them producing nuanced performances that ultimately lead to revelations long suppressed.

But years of hiding the truth from themselves and those surrounding have left each of them so damaged that the road is not an easy one … an allegory represented by the difficulty of the trek they have undertaken.

While their omnipresent yearning and conflicts are at times wearing, flashbacks provide context as to why Julia pushes away everyone around her, often grating in her inability to let anyone be close to her and allow the viewer to begin to understand and forgive her shortcomings, even as she—and her travelling companions—can’t. Regardless, the threesome’s growing connection is endearing as they are forced to come together to move forward not only on their physical trek but in their lives.

When they finally reach the Wishing Tree, the film is imbued with an ethereal sense of mysticism that is initially jarring in the film’s hard truths context, but somehow feels right in the beauty of the forest and in the inky darkness of night.

Julia encounters Mira, a forest dweller living in the woods as this special tree’s caretaker, a sage old soul who emanates peace and finds salvation in nature … Now sharing that healing wisdom with Julia without reservation or judgment.

An emotionally taut film that ultimately weaves together a story of hope and second chances … A transformative message that each of us can appreciate these days when many of us have lost their way.

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