Eran Riklis' Lemon Tree (2009) is a nearly pitch-perfect political against-the-system humanist drama about an aging, desolate woman ordered to abandon her lemon grove after the arrival of the Israeli Defense Minister next door.
Located on the border between Israel and the 'West Bank' (Palestine), the minister's secret servicemen advise him that the lemon grove offers a serious level of threat. Without contemplation, he okays the order to cut down the grove and compensate Salma (Hiam Abass) for her troubles. But the grove holds sentimental value to Salma, who is now the last of her family remaining to look after it. Not only does the grove represent everything to her, but it becomes a symbol of an entire nation and race holding on and unwilling to let go.
Lemon Tree is at once a very touching and poignantly observed little film. It's great in that it uses a small-scale domestic issue to encapsulate the idealogy of two cultures and two nations, but it boils down to something that doesn't ever truly sing. It's a film that does what it wants to without a lot of aggression, but the result is not completely satisfying or extraordinary. For what it's worthy, it accomplishes what it sets out to do.
Viewed on DVD