Posts tagged “Israel”.

Film Review: Lemon Tree

I saw The Lemon Tree at the Rutgers Jewish Film Festival this past weekend, starring Hiam Abbas (Syrian Bride, Satin Rouge) as a middle-aged West Bank resident who tends to the grove of lemon trees her father planted dccades ago. Unfortunately (and unrealistically), Israel’s defense minister moves in next to her, on the other side of the border fence. The Secret Service determines that the 150 trees are a threat, and the State of Israel moves to cut them all down, first, fencing them in.

Lemon Tree explores the futility and anguish of people who are separating themselves and others, while also looking at the bigger problem of Israeli-Palestinian tensions. Salma (Hiam Abbas) winds up hiring a lawyer and the case goes as far as the Israeli Supreme Court. Meanwhile, a media storm brews up then a reporter from Yehudiot Aharanot accuses the defense minister of “being afraid of a few lemons.” In the course of the film, we see the grove fenced off, but Salma sneak in daily to keep the trees alive. We see the border guard in the tower feeling sympathetic toward her, as does the minister’s wife; we also see the Israelis invading her home and tossing the place after her grove is used to attack to the minister.

What we also see are the constraints on personal relationships, and potentional good neighbors. Mira, the minister’s wife, clearly feels bad for Salma, as does the guard in the tower. We see the strains of Mira and her husband Israel; we see how Salma’s merely going into a roomful of men is seen as provocative. Salma is also rebuked for a potential romance with her lawyer–widows seem to be expected to be remain unmarried and unloved if they lose their husbands early. We also see how both mothers in the film feel disconnects with their offspring–both have children in Washington, DC. Salma has daughters closer by, but they don’t seem to visit. And while Salma is entitled to compensation from the Israeli government, she is reminded by a influential man in her community, “As you know, we don’t take their money…” So, the film shows people on both sides who have to subvert their natural impulses due to a variety of social, political, and religious constraints.

Director Eran Riklis has created a dynamic yet simple story that deserves a wider audience. Given that his last film with Hiam Abbas, Syrian Bride, was distributed in theatres, hopefully this one witll be as well.