Lemon Tree

"Weak"

Lemon Tree Review


Israeli director Eran Riklis' latest feature, Lemon Tree, depicts the legal battle waged between a poor lemon farmer living on the Green Line between the West Bank and Israel and her neighbor, the Israeli Defense Minister, whose security detail wants to uproot all her trees to ensure that no terrorists will use the orchard as cover for an attack. It is part of a new echelon of films that treat the temperamental ground where Israeli-Palestinian politics lays with kid gloves and seems not to have the faintest idea of how to properly approach the subject. At the very least, that puts it in line with a great number of citizens and politicians worldwide.

At the center of the film are two strong females, played by two strong actresses. Salma, the woman who owns the lemon orchard which she inherited from her late father, is played by Hiam Abbass, the lovely, steely-eyed Israeli-born actress from both Riklis' last film, the superior The Syrian Bride, and last year's The Visitor. The other is played by Rona Lipaz-Michael, a radiant and talented newcomer, who portrays Mira, the wife of the Defense Minister. Salma lost her husband some time ago to a weak heart while Mira is losing her husband to his job, his ego, and a pert secretary. The man who has come into Salma's life is a handsome young lawyer named Zidane; the man who comes into Mira's is a hard-nosed secret service agent.

Zidane, who is played by the excellent Ali Suliman, is bringing Salma's case in front of the Israeli Supreme Court in hopes of saving her orchard. A romance begins but doesn't go far, partly due to Zidane having a wife and daughter waiting for him in Russia, not to mention his affair with a high-ranking official's daughter. Perhaps the most consistent facet of Riklis' film is how fem-centric it is. The director often evokes the spirit of great men, but most of those who make it onscreen are seen as weak-willed, outdated or, to be quite frank, scumbags.

Great films can be made that are set in tumultuous times or during tumultuous events without directly confronting either (see Duplicity) but Lemon Tree isn't one of these films. For one, it is unabashedly pro-Palestine and even its most sincere Israeli character (Mira) is seen as far inferior to Salma and the lovable old man who works her farm and argues "Trees are like people" to the court. The name Hezbollah is invoked a few times but for what purpose besides setting up a narrative threat? Riklis has adorned his take on Erin Brockovich with the threads and settings of the Israel/Palestine conflict but largely disregards the volatile emotions and the sectarian fury that goes along with it.

A little over halfway through the film, Mira's husband sings with a pretty lady about how things will be okay as long as we all. The lemon orchard is at once Mira's troubled marriage, Salma's heritage, Palestinian tradition, and Zidane's expatriate past, but any complexity given to these conflicts comes to a conclusion far too easily and predictably to be taken seriously. The results are blithely impersonal, formulaic, and without flavor, and even if you don't enjoy the taste of the titular citrus, it's far preferable.

Aka Etz Limon.

Lemon tree, very pretty.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 106 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 27th March 2008

Box Office USA: $0.5M

Distributed by: IFC

Production compaines: Eran Riklis Productions Ltd.

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Fresh: 61 Rotten: 5

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Eran Riklis

Producer: Eran Riklis

Starring: Hiam Abbass as Selma Zidane, Tarik Kopty as Abu Hussam, Ali Suliman as Ziad Daud, Doron Tavory as Verteidigungsminister, Rona Lipaz-Michael as Frau des Verteidigungsministers

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Get Back Movie Review

Get Back Movie Review

Roger Appleton's documentary 'Get Back' looks into the music scene that come out of Liverpool....

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Advertisement
Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.