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<em>The Last Tree</em> tussles with tough issues

(Picturehouse Entertainment)

Movie

The Last Tree tussles with tough issues

New independent film is not for kids

Ah, the freedom of childhood: 11-year-old boys playing in mud, wrestling, out-­bellowing each other, oblivious of skin color.

Still, despite its family themes, compelling cinematography, evocative score, and impressive acting, The Last Tree is not for kids. It’s worth seeing if you’re ready for an unvarnished, revealing journey into the world of a foster child struggling to find his identity, torn between cultures.

The film centers on three chapters of a Nigerian boy’s life in Lincolnshire (England), London, and Lagos. Femi spends his carefree childhood in the countryside with Mary, the loving, white foster mom he adores. She promises: “She’s not coming to take you away.”

In the next scene, his birth mom returns to take him to dreary London where his troubles begin, including racial tensions between other blacks. We watch him grapple with relationships and life-defining choices. A compassionate teacher who recognizes himself in Femi intervenes in a turning-point moment to hug away the teen’s anger, allowing him to finally sob. Healing begins.

Both moms are described as Christians, although one admonishes harshly. A pastor is a louse. F-bombs fly occasionally. Several characters smoke marijuana. The independent film can be purchased and streamed through a number of virtual cinemas.