A desperately ill lawyer travels to Sicily seeking a cure from a miraculously healing tree in AnteNovakovic‘s religious-themed drama, which was showcased recently at NYC’s Soho International Film Festival. Uneasily blending inspirational elements with a Da Vinci Code-style conspiracy involving an ancient order of Catholic priests, Leaves of the Tree is ultimately too disjointed and diffuse to have the desired impact.
The ubiquitous Eric Roberts plays Patrick, a pharmaceutical-company-patent lawyer who suffers from congestive heart failure due to an unnamed illness. So he’s naturally eager to travel to Italy when the company receives information about a Sicilian olive tree that, as illustrated by a prologue set in the early 19th century, has been producing miracles for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
Accompanying him on the journey are his wife, Sweetness (Sean Young); their daughter, Danielle (Sarah Sebastiana); his best friend, Joe (Armand Assante); and company executive Roberta (Marisa Brown). Once there, they meet the mysterious Dr. Ferramonti (Federico Castelluccio, best known as Furio in The Sopranos), who we eventually learn has long benefited from the tree’s miraculous powers.
Complicating their mission is the presence of Don Diego (Ozman Sirgood), who’s arrived in the remote Sicilian village with a cadre of fellow priests supposedly in search of the ruins of an ancient church. It soon becomes clear that what they’re really after is their goal of preventing the tree from falling into outside hands. That Diego has the deep pockets of the Vatican at his disposal is made evident when he doesn’t blink at Roberta’s tossed-off demand for $100 million in exchange for the company giving up its pursuit of the tree’s healing salve.