The Netflix top 10 list is an ever-changing landscape. Sometimes you get animated sci-fi shorts, other days you dive headfirst into a dramatic tale of vampires that cannot keep their hands off each other.
But sometimes, you want to escape the escapism and watch something with real depth and real consequences. Trees of Peace is exactly that, and it just broke into Netflix’s top 10 list.
We spotted the film on the Netflix Top 10 movies in the U.S. list at number 9. There, it sits below the VICE bio-pic and above Kathryn Bigelow's 2009 war film The Hurt Locker.
What is Trees of Peace about?
Trees of Peace is the writer-director debut for Alanna Brown. It tells the fictionalized tale of four women from different backgrounds during the genocide in Rwanda who forge an unbreakable sisterhood while trapped and in hiding. They expect to need only to survive for a few days, but are left in a single room for months before the story is over.
Rwandan actress Eliane Umuhire plays a “moderate” Hutu, who narrates the story as pages from her journal. Trapped with her are also Sister Jeannette, a nun played by Charmaine Bingwa, and Peyton, a volunteer from an American non-governmental organization played by Ella Cannon. They are both teachers at a nearby school.
Finally, while many of the actors and actresses in Trees of Peace are relatively unknown, the performance of Bola Koleosho is reportedly the one to watch for. She plays Mutesi, a hot-headed Tutsi girl who saw her family slaughtered and is rescued by the others before they are trapped.
What the critics think of Trees of Peace
Rotten Tomatoes (opens in new tab) has yet to give Trees of Peace a rating, which is because there haven't been enough reviews to generate a score. There are two reviews on the site from critics, both of which draw comparisons to the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda.
Radhika Menon from Decider (opens in new tab) states that “You can think of Trees of Peace as the flip side of Hotel Rwanda — the 2004 film centered on a Hutu man hiding refugees in his hotel, while this 2021 film focuses on those hiding inside” and calls Trees of Peace “A love letter to the resilience of the Rwandan women who found ways to not only survive, but to rebuild their countries from the ashes.”
Movie Nation (opens in new tab)’s Roger Moore writes that Trees of Peace is “A compact, tense, well-acted and quietly gripping story of endurance...in cinematic shorthand, it is “Hotel Rwanda,” with its story and characters packed into Hitchcock’s “Lifeboat.” He also describes the film as a “Quietly gripping “inspired by true events” story of endurance.”
There are some blemishes despite the overall positive reviews. While Moore praises the gripping storyline, he does find that it can be conventional at times. “Brown never comes close to transcending the formula this film is made under. But the players, the myopic setting and narrowly-focused screenplay ensure that “Trees of Peace” is a good example of how and why this formula is still around.”
What do audiences think of Trees of Peace?
Audiences on both Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb (opens in new tab) are largely positive in their reviews of Trees of Peace. The movie currently sits at a 6.5 out of 10 on IMDb and has a 75% audience score. Most of the reviews on both sites praise the film both for its story and its cinematography.
Outlook: Should you stream Trees of Peace tonight?
If you are in the mood for a story filled with realistic drama that leaves you introspective at its conclusion, then Trees of Peace may be right for you. The movie does not appear to lack quality, but the Rwandan genocide is obviously heavy subject matter. However, with Trees of Peace, we now get a new perspective on those tragic events, and one that is probably much needed.