Lemon Tree

Hiam Abass and Ali SulmanHollywood’s preoccupation with movies to interest adolescent boys is tiresome and a bore. We relish the few good Hollywood movies that escape this sophomoric curse, but they seem few and far between. Luckily, there is an alternative. We find we gravitate to foreign and independent films for movies made to entertain adults.

 
Lemon Tree is about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is a brave little movie because it dares to see both sides, and is made by an Israeli director and a Palestinian writer.
 
Israeli director Eran Riklis and his Palestinian co-writer, Suha Arraf set the story on the frontier between Israeli and Palestinian territory and cultures. The Israeli Defense Minister builds a new house. Its back yard sits right next to a lemon grove owned by Palestinian widow Salma Zidane. The grove was her husband’s, until he died, so it represents much more than her only source of income.
 
When Israeli security officers declare the grove a threat to the minister’s home and family, it is ordered destroyed. The widow is devastated, but mounts a legal battle to save her trees, and the life she has known for so long. The widow is championed by young, idealistic, and ambitious Palestinian lawyer. Slowly, her battle for her grove becomes an international cause celebre.
 
She finds an unlikely ally in the defense minister’s wife, Mira. In an interview, Mira longs wistfully to be able to speak with her neighbour.
 
The film is an allegory for bigger and more troubling issues than a disputed lemon grove. It features exceptional performances by all, especially Hiam Abbass who portrays Salma Zidane. All the cast, even those in the smallest roles, bring nuances to their performances that lend meaning to this touching and troubling tale. 
 
If you are tempted to avoid this movie because you dislike “political films”, please reconsider. This is a film full of heart, soul, and beauty – not rhetoric. It’s worth searching out this summer.
 
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