Zidane, you're rocking the boat

PUBLISHED: 12:42 11 December 2008 | UPDATED: 15:41 07 September 2010

Lemon Tree (PG) Director Eran Riklis Starring Hiam Abbass, Rona Lipaz-Michael, Ali Suliman, Dorn Tavory, Tarik Kopty. Arabic/Hebrew with subtitles 106 mins. Three star rating A Palestinian widow goes all the way to the Israeli Supreme Court as she tri

Lemon Tree (PG)

Director Eran Riklis

Starring Hiam Abbass, Rona Lipaz-Michael, Ali Suliman, Dorn Tavory, Tarik Kopty. Arabic/Hebrew with

subtitles

106 mins.

Three star rating

A Palestinian widow goes all the way to the Israeli Supreme Court as she tries to protect her precious lemon grove in this little guy standing up to the system drama, transplanted to border between Israel and the West Bank. Salma Zidane's problems start when the Israeli defence minister moves into a plush house on the opposing side of the border and decides that her humble collection of trees would offer ideal cover for a terrorist attack on his house.

The situation provides a perfect little microcosm of the Middle East struggle although it's just as much about women who are trapped in their situations as the film draws parallels between Salma and Mira, the defence minister's lonely wife.

Lemon Tree is subtle, thoughtful and endearingly performed. After her performance in The Visitor, Arab-Israeli actress Hiam Abbass is sealing quite a reputation for playing hot, but not so merry widows. The scenes with her lawyer Ziad (Suliman, last seen in Body of Lies) are well played even though I'm not sure I really believed how their relation-ship panned out. Tavory plays the defence minister with a marvellously Netanyahu smarmy swagger.

The film clearly sides with Salma but is carefully even handed, trying to do justice to all sides. In fact, there is something a little bit too neat about it. Given the amount of stretching and shifting there was during the screening I'd say that its theme isn't quite compelling enough to justify its pedestrian pacing. It's one of those films that as a reviewer you want to have a quiet word with halfway through; "Ok fair play to you, gold stars all round but do you think you could possibly speed it up, just a little bit.


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