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Movie Review: Lemon Tree

Alternate Title: Forbidden Fruit

Story: Do fences make good neighbors? If current history has anything to tell us, the answer is a resounding NO. This fine, compelling film directed by Eran Riklis ( an Israeli) and written by Suha Arraf (a Palestinian Israeli woman) and Mr. Riklis.

The time is now where we find the new Israeli Defense Minister moving into a mansion on the West Bank border. His neighbor is a Palestinian woman whose family has tended a lemon grove for the past 50 years. The Secret Service orders the grove cut down for security reasons. She decides to sue. The film is loosely based on a true incident.

The film is about so much more than this one woman and her battle to keep her grove. Without lecturing or actually taking sides the film delves into the politics, history and frustration of a region with a 3000 year struggle. The film focus' on the Palestinian woman and the wife of the Defense Minister. Without actually meeting they have more to say than all of the men who have too many opinions.

The movie is a recommend to anyone interested in phenomenal acting (Hiam Abbass), politics and a slice of life. What should you do if life hands you lemons? How about making a fine film like this one and send it around the world.

Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIoowHIpUT0

Acting: Hiam Abbass as Salma, is wonderful. Her face, tone, posture and intelligence dominate the screen. Brava. Ali Suliman as lawyer Ziad Daud is wonderfully cast in a nuanced performance. Rona Lipaz-Michael as Mira Navon, wife of the Defense Minister, does a fine job is her role. Doron Tavory as Minister Israel Navon is right on the money.

Trivia: Hiam Abbass is an Israeli Arab actress. She is known for her roles in the films Satin Rouge, Paradise Now (2005), The Syrian Bride (2004), Free Zone (2005), and The Visitor (2008). Abbass was born in Nazareth, Israel and was raised in a traditional Muslim village by the Lebanese border. She won Best Actress award of the Israeli Film Academy for her work in Lemon Tree.

Predilection: None.

Critters: Goats

Food: Lemons, lots and lots of tea and coffee.

Sex Spectrum: Lots of hints of sex but none on screen.

Blatant Product Placement: None

Soundtrack: The old song 'Lemon Tree' is heard during the opening sequence and a fine track of ethnic music throughout.

Opening Titles: We meet Salma during the opening credits as she is making some type of jarred fruit product using her lemons.

Visual Art: Some funny photos.

Theater Audience: Surprisingly crowded for a Memorial Day afternoon. It was a Senior Upper East Side ethnic crowd. We fit right in.

Weather: Israel is lovely in the spring.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: It was difficult to see that wall that has been built throughout Israel as a divider of people, politics and rational thought.

Drift Factor: I was attentive throughout.

Predictability Level: Moderate. I was not sure where the ending would take us.

Tissue Usage: I welled up a few times.

Oscar Worthy: Hiam Assam could be a nominee in anyone's awards. She was phenomenal.

Soap Box: There is too much to say about the Middle East politics. I will save my opinions for another time and another place.

Nit Picking: At times it is difficult t read the subtitles. The white type is superimposed over bleached backgrounds. You do not lose any important dialogue, but it is annoying.

Big Screen or Rental: Either.

Length: Under two hours.