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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tree of Hands (released in 1989) - Starring Helen Shaver, Lauren Bacall and Peter Firth

A psychological thriller by the acclaimed Ruth Kendra is adapted for this movie starring Lauren Bacall, Helen Shaver, Malcolm Stoddard, Paul McGaunnand and Peter Firth in lead roles. Directed by Leonard Maltin, this movie deals with a mother's grief of losing a child.
Benet Archdale is an affluent single mother living in North London. Benet has a dysfunctional family with her mother being a certified schizophrenic. She is a bit wary of her mother's illness with memories of abuse fresh in her mind. In fact her mother tries to stab her with a carving knife!!!!. But soon her mother has to take care of her as, James, Benet's son succumbs to an illness, leaving her distraught and grief stricken. She is not able to function properly in-spite of her mother's best intentions and care.
On the parallel track, is Carol, a mother of seven who is a nymphomaniac with men moving in and out of her life. She is careless with her children and physically abuses each one of them. Many of them have tell tale signs of abuse with cigarette burnings and weals all over the body. Mrs. Archdale kidnaps young Jason, Carol's son to replace James's place in Benet's life. Initially she is not able to reconcile with the other boy's presence and is repulsed by the kid who is very unlike her son.



But Benet soon is horrified to learn of Jason's upbringing and the sympathy turns to affection. She notices the cigarette burns and beating marks on the young body and her indignation turns to love and caring. May be Benet sees herself in the little boy who lacks maternal love just as she did. Soon Benet becomes his mother and Jay bonds with her real well.
But the fairy tale ends there with nosy neighbors, ex-husbands and current flames trying to separate the mother and son. Benet's lover and doctor, Ian tries to reason her to return Jason to his mom. Meanwhile Jason's parents are charged with murder to complicate things. The movie is a sensitive portrayal of a grief stricken mother's action and how it snowballs in to mystery affecting an entire community. Ruth Randell is the queen of intensity and drama and the book with all its viciousness is transformed into a film. This psychological suspense thriller with the high body count leaves you shell shocked and spell bound. The beginning is rather tame, but it evolves in to a very sinister movie. The movie is also known as “Innocent victim” and it is interesting to know that the “Tree of Hands” is one of the paintings which hangs on James's bedside while he is in hospital.
The performances are extremely good and the director Giles has extracted the maximum from all the actors. Helen Shaver as Benet pulls your heart strings and Lauren Bacall shines as the mad schizophrenic mother. Rest of the actors also give a decent outcome. This movie is definitely rated for adults and if you like psychological thrillers. Tree of hands is definitely the one for you.

Tree of Hands (released in 1989) - Starring Helen Shaver, Lauren Bacall and Peter Firth

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