By Andrea Karen Hammer
The Lemon Tree, based on a true story, reveals how the owner of a lemon grove was determined to protect land inherited from her father.
At the heart of this film, the extraordinarily talented Hiam Abbass gives lemon grove owner Salma Zidane understated power. With a commanding on-screen presence reminiscent of her role in The Visitor, Hiam Abbass informs each scene with stunning dignity and humanity. Her commitment to protect and harvest her family’s land is personally and legally fortified with the support of lawyer Ziad Daud (Ali Suliman).
Compassionate Lawyer Protects Client’s Right to Inherited Lemon Grove
Ali Suliman shapes his role as a lawyer, who doesn’t insist on immediate payment, with subtlety and skill. Driving a rundown car and wearing worn clothes, he works around the clock to defend his client’s rights. When he loses the first case in her defense, Ziad Daud doubles his efforts while appealing the case all the way to the highest court.
Tormented Observer and Neighbor Attempts to Connect Despite Differences
Playing the deeply conflicted defense minister’s wife, Rona Lipaz-Michael as Mira Navon adds an important dimension to the outcome of the Lemon Tree. From the moment that barbed wire encroaches her new neighbor’s lemon grove because of security concerns, the defense minister’s wife is tormented. Apart from any differences in backgrounds, languages and traditions, Rona Lipaz-Michael as Mira Navon shows empathy through their connection as women–even if from a distance. As she watches her neighbor’s distress about her rotting lemons, she finally tries to close the gap from observing through her window to scaling the fence and knocking on the door.
Gifted Actresses, Balancing Simplicity and Complexity, Drive Story to a Surprising Conclusion
The two actresses, from their separate positions, continue to drive the story to its surprising conclusion. En route, two powerful scenes contribute to the riveting quality of this film: first, when Salma Zidane (Hiam Abbass) strikes back when her neighbors help themselves to the lemons for a party, and, second, Mira Navon’s (Rona Lipaz-Michael‘s) unexpected decision–and action–at the end of the movie.
Balancing simplicity and complexity in equal parts, Lemon Tree is an outstanding and must-see film to watch.