DVD The Lemon Tree (DVD 6239400),
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The Lemon Tree
Region 1 USA/CA (
The conflict between Israel and Palestine is filtered through a deeply personal tale in this impressive feature from writer/director Eran Riklis. Salma Zidane (Hiam Abbass) is a lonely Palestinian widow who runs a beautiful lemon grove. But she faces trouble when the Israeli defense minister, Israel Navon (Doron Tavory), moves into her neighborhood, and his secret service agents request the destruction of the grove. The agents believe that terrorists could easily hide out in the trees and threaten the minister, so there is a court case to remove the trees. Devastated by the potential loss, Zidane hires a lawyer and takes the case to the Supreme Court, while Navon's wife, Mira (Rona Lipaz-Michael), complicates matters by feeling sympathy for her new neighbor's plight.
Riklis's movie is downbeat and thoughtful and provides a satisfying follow-up to his acclaimed 2004 feature, THE SYRIAN BRIDE. At the heart of the picture are two isolated women, Zidane and the minister's wife, who feel drawn to one another despite the vast difference in their circumstances. Although the two characters barely share any scenes, Riklis deftly illustrates how they are both in opposition to the values held by Navon and his administration. The lemon grove is cleverly employed as a device that represents the vast chasm between Israel and Palestine, and the film carefully includes a broad range of characters, including the lecherous minister, some oafish soldiers, and the sad-eyed Zidane. The movie is beautifully shot, although Riklis carefully avoids turning it into a feel-good feature, instead using THE LEMON TREE as a parable that examines the stark contrasts on the West Bank in the early part of the 21st century.
Hiam Abbass, Ali Suliman, Rona Lipaz-Michael, Doron Tavory, Tarik Batal, Amos Lavie, Amnon Wolf, Smadar Yaaron, Ayelet Robinson, Danny Leshman
3 stars out of 5 -- "Abbas continues to impress with her strong acting talent and ability to command the screen with a single stare....She is at the forefront of LEMON TREE and elevates the material..."
"[A]n allegory of Israeli-Palestinian strife....[A] wrenching, richly layered feminist allegory as well as a a geopolitical one."
New York Times
"[I]t's beautifully shot, crisply paced, and subtly performed by a cast of veterans..." -- Grade: B-
"LEMON TREE is in its best moments a sober-hearted take on the righteous blowbacks from whittled-away souls, and a movie that invariably rights itself with each return to the beautifully gaze of Abbass."
Los Angeles Times
"Based on a true story, LEMON TREE explores the painful human detail of life in a society warped by terrorism....Riklis has made a powerful film..."
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