AFF Review- La casa del árbol


Set to the energetic rhythm of Ocean’s Acoustic’s song by the same name, “La casa del árbol” tells a story that spans a lifetime in a matter of minutes. The film opens with a young boy, Moliere, learning to play the violin from his father. As the shop’s sign, taller de cuerdas, comes into view, the father shakes his head at his son’s presumably imperfect violin playing. Even though the son keeps trying, his face only really comes to life when he sees a trumpet for sale. In that moment, a new dream takes shape, and he chases after it.


The film tells a familiar story of a son’s dream diverging from his father’s. His hunger to play the trumpet drives him, until he realizes that the one thing he longs for is to share his life with his father. One of my favorite scenes in the film is a detour that brings him alongside a traveling circus, where he comes across a clown playing with his children dressed as mimes. Happening upon this tender moment, the son realizes that even in a world of travelers and circuses, familial bonds maintain a sense of love and support to share the joys and challenges of life.


Told without dialogue, the film brings its tender story to life with affectively compelling characters, energetic music (and silence), and skillful animation. Warm, saturated colors, richly detailed scenes, and plays with focus (out-of-focus and in-focus elements) become the medium and background for the character’s growth. The film celebrates a youthful and familiar world in animation, in particular with the father’s large beard, flannel shirt, trucker hat, and persistent guitar playing, as well as Moliere’s suspender and paperboy hat look. Each of the character’s large ears and eyes punctuate the earnest and open feelings represented in and through the film.


The film is also notable as the work of creator, director, writer, and producer, Adán Díaz de León. A member of Ocean’s Acoustic, an indie folk band that hails from Mexico, Díaz de León is also an animator and story-writer. Released as part of the band’s album, Volver a vernos crecer, the song “La casa del árbol” becomes the pulse of the short film, and Díaz de León brings the song’s lyrics life through animation and visual storytelling.

If you have a few minutes, I recommend taking a peek at the film here:

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