Just saw "Noble Fir" at the Cinequest Film Festival. It was a very well done and thought provoking film, far different from the mainstream. A movie is supposed to visually convey an idea primarily by how the film is shot, how the story progresses, and how the actor portrays his character. Modern movies tend to have a thin plot based around some Mcguffin and too much exposition, the acting is done through talking heads, and the cinematography is visual spectacle that is like eating too much candy. Noble Fir, on the other hand, uses acting, story, and cinematography subtly and to great emotional effect because each element is intertwined. The story, the actors, and the cinematography are each a part of each other in a way most movies fail to achieve. There is no over-exposition or blunt revelations; the story cannot be told without seeing the entire film. Noble Fir tells the story of Henry, a Christmas tree farmer, who has experienced a great loss and is dealing with grief, anger, and bitterness. The film puts us in Henry's shoes by keeping the point of view over his shoulders, at first rarely showing all of his face except for a few key moments of emotion. The style of the film keeps you focused on Henry's work tending his trees, where much of the film's themes are developed. What tragedy has befallen Henry becomes apparent in small hints; no one directly speaks about it, and you are left to piece it together as the film progresses. One of the biggest revelations about the tragedy itself is only revealed when Henry begins to see how his bitterness and grief is not exclusive to himself (I will not reveal this in case any one wants to see the film for themselves). All of this is presented using a narrow depth of field, meaning the world outside of Henry usually appears blurred and vague until other people encroach on Henry's guarded, independent self. This was what first impressed me about the film. Noble Fir is not an overtly spiritual film, but the main message is a spiritual one about how the root of bitterness consumes and destroys, much as creeping vines can kill a tree. Henry, portrayed by Richard Wilson, is allowed to grow as a character through his actions until we the audience can understand him; then, the view opens up and Henry's thoughts and emotions are more visible as well. True to Henry's laconic nature, the movie resolves with Henry continuing to care for his trees, but with a change that you will only appreciate by watching the film. I hope that this film becomes widely available somehow, because it is rare to see a movie with a message presented so well.