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Lemon Tree (2008) [DVD]
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Salma, a Palestinian widow, has to stand up against her new neighbour, the Israeli Defense Minister, when he moves into his new house opposite her lemon grove, on the green line border between Israel and the West Bank. The Israeli security forces are quick to declare that Salma s trees pose a threat to the Minister s safety and issue orders to uproot them. Together with Ziad Daud, her young Palestinian lawyer, Salma goes all the way to the Israeli Supreme Court to try and save her trees. Her struggle raises the interest of Mira Navon, the Defense minister s wife, who is trapped in her new home and in an unhappy life. Despite their differences and the borders between them the two women develop an invisible bond, while forbidden ties grow stronger between Salma and Ziad. Salma s legal and personal journey lead her deep into the complex, dark and sometimes funny chaos of the ongoing struggle in the Middle East, in which all players find themselves alone in their struggle to survive.
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Top Customer Reviews
The great merit of this film lies in the way the political theme, interesting enough on its own, is entwined with private dramas going on in the lives of the widow, the lawyer she engages to fight her case, and the minister's wife who is brought to perceive the human cost of a political decision in which she is implicated. These interlinked public and private themes are delicately handled, with just the right amount of weight being given to each.
Hiam Abbass, who I thought was the best thing about the same director's earlier The Syrian Bride, here shines even more brightly. She gives a wonderfully subtle portrayal of a woman who resists pressure from all sides, including from overbearing male interests, to give in and conform. Against the odds and her natural temperament, she turns her small act of revolt into one symbolic of every individual fighting for justice against overweening authority. This is great acting.
Mira(Rona Lipaz-Michael) is incarcerated in her new wealthy home,suffering her own divisions from her husband and loss of her growing children.She looks across the fence separating her and Salma,and through silent observation and empathy with her Palestinian neighbour,comes to disengage herself from her philandering husband,who too easily conforms to his security staff's wishes.The state of Israel slaps a requirement that the grove should be uprooted due to a fear of terrorists using it for cover,becoming a threat to the minister's life.They offer compensation, but Salma's sentimental roots in the grove, now her children have grown up, as well as her livelihood,make her seek out a young lawyer,Ziad Daud,to help her take it to the Supreme Court.Read more ›
Many viewers have criticized the film as anti-Israeli, but I disagree with that judgment on a number of levels. First, there are a number of full-blooded characters on the Israeli side, who struggle with what is happening. In particular the Minister's wife: she sees the situation, yet does not know what exactly she might do and struggles with it in spite of her husband's insensitivity. When she talks to a reporter, her actions lead to unforeseen consequences, which highlight many aspects of Israel's political system yet make no definitive statement and offers no unambiguous message. In my view, this is very much like what might happen in real life. Second, the Palestinian characters are also not at all simple: some are good, some not, and many are normal people trying to get through the day. While the woman is certainly a victim, there is nothing maudlin or tendentious about her struggle: it is realistic and she faces terrible odds. There is also a lawyer of good motives but questionable behavior and nosy, conservative neighbors.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good, but not amazing, the excellent lead role was slightly diminished by the strong woman being 'rescued' by a (self promoting) man trope and the developing relationship between... Read morePublished 7 months ago by tom
Saw this on TV some years ago and found it a poignant film. Decided I need a copy of my own. Set on the Israeli- Palestine border, a sorts of different countries, cultures and... Read morePublished 15 months ago by ahare
Subtle, moving film. Highly recommended for those who want insights into the repercussions of the Israeli situation for individuals on both sides. Read morePublished 18 months ago by J. Somerville