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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

ETZ LIMON / LEMON TREE (2008)

In the West Bank area of Palestine, an old lemon grove borders the home of the new Israeli Defense Minister. Military security insists on tearing up the grove since the trees could provide easy camouflage for terrorists. But the stubborn Palestinian widow, who inherited the grove from her father, challenges the order and takes her case all the way to the Israeli Supreme Court. Justice, anyone? Israeli filmmaker Eran Riklis manages to keep this real-life incident from playing out like a political set-up (or a Frank Capra-esque David & Goliath allegory) by refusing to overload his situations. (He's fully aware that the handsome widowed grove-owner has us from ‘Salaam.’) He also keeps information to a bare minimum so we don’t get ahead of things, and brings up unexpected personal problems for characters on both sides of the fence. Here, the most powerful & original scenes show the kind of collateral emotional damage that play in the margins of big issue stories. Especially, when some Palestinian elders try to stop the budding friendship between the grove owner (the superb Hiam Abbass) and her young lawyer (a very sympathetic Ali Suliman). Some griefs come along without political entanglements.

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