Lemon Tree (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner11/12/2008

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 106 mins

Impressively directed, emotionally engaging Israeli drama with a terrific central performance from Hiam Abbass.

What's it all about?
Directed by Eran Riklis, Lemon Tree stars Hiam Abbass (who was wonderful in The Visitor) as Salma Zidane, a 40-something Palestinian widow who makes a meagre living from her beloved lemon grove, on the border between Israel and the West Bank. However, when the Israeli Defense Minister (Doron Tavory) moves into the house next door, his security team are quick to point out that terrorists could hide in the trees, so the Minister orders that the lemon grove be cut down.

Horrified at the Minister's decision, Salma enlists the aid of Ziad Daud (Ali Suliman), a young Palestinian lawyer, and together they take the case all the way to the Israeli Supreme Court to try and protect the trees. Meanwhile, Salma finds both an unexpected ally in the Minister's lonely wife, Mira (Rona Lipaz-Michael) and an even more unexpected romance with Ziad.

The Good
Hiam Abbass is fantastic as Salma, maintaining a quiet dignity throughout her ordeal that is extraordinarily powerful – the expression on her face will stay with you long after you leave the cinema and if there were any justice, she'd get an Oscar nomination. Abbass also has terrific chemistry with Ali Suliman, to the point where you completely understand his character's attraction to her, despite the massive age gap.

There's also strong support from Rona Lipaz-Michael, who's able to say more with a single, understated glance than most actresses manage with three pages of dialogue.

The Great
In other hands, Lemon Tree could have devolved into heavy-handed allegory and it's to Riklis' credit that this never happens. In additon, he orchestrates some genuinely moving scenes and some extremely suspenseful sequences; he also deserves extra credit for not succumbing to a Hollywood-style ending.

Worth seeing?
In short, Lemon Tree is an impressively directed, superbly acted drama that carries a powerful message and deserves to be seen. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

Lemon Tree (PG)
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Content updated: 20/08/2018 09:24

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