I'm a little late to the party but hope I am still welcome at the table. I finally got around to watching "The Family Tree" and was pleasantly surprised.
This little independent film, which takes place around Christmas time (hence, why I am late) but it is not a Christmas movie. It's a relationship movie that just happens around Christmas.
Big-hearted Victor (Keith Roenke) begins caring for down-on-his-luck Roy (Michael Joseph Nelson) after he is mugged outside of Victor's home.
Roy's luck really is at an end as he needs to leave the country as he's not a citizen. Victor offers to marry him to keep him around even though they both claim to be straight.
While sounding unbelievable, the skilled actors make it work. They have great chemistry and Roenke's kind nature, makes it plausible that he would make such an offer and Nelson's desperate situation certainly makes the offer one he can't refuse.
Director/writer Jorge Ameer paints a wonderful portrait of things we need to do to help our fellow man which is an important message in times like this. The Christmas holiday may take a backseat to the story, but it is obvious of Ameer's love for Christmas and it becomes a welcome supporting character as does Anais Lucia who plays a pivotal role in the two men's bond.
The movie never goes down the path you think, taking many surprising detours that keep you on your toes and in suspense. Further, when you think you then know what lies ahead, it takes yet another turn.
Not a spoiler, but the men obviously grow close in their marriage of convenience and offering some very tender, sexy and believable scenes between the two of them. The last fourth of the movie is an emotional rollercoaster and before you can wonder if it's believable, you are drawn in.
Not a perfect film, though. I did find the sound quality to be underwhelming and sometimes dialog is drowned out by background sounds. But regardless of that, the film has won acclaim and over 27 awards from various film festivals and critics circles.
The movie can be streamed through Amazon Prime. Director/writer Ameer is also happy that the film has qualified for this year's Oscars. One might think such a modest film cannot compete against "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" or even "Nomadland" in this year's Academy Awards. But the good news, for this film and other independent movies, that all qualifying films can be viewed at home. So it's just as easy to tune in to "The Family Tree" as it is "Wonder Woman 1984" as we didn't have films open up to over 3000 theatres this year - a feat "Tree" could never attain without a major studio.
So instead, these smaller films are on the same playing ground as the blockbusters: being available for you to hit click and give them a chance. So take a chance. Think of it as your last Christmas present to yourself.