Lemon Tree

In director Eran Riklis’ warmly dignified parable of gentrification and Middle Eastern border conflict, Hiam Abbass plays a West Bank Palestinian widow whose family-owned lemon grove threatens her Israeli defense minister neighbor (Doron Tavory); when his security-obsessed handlers order the trees cut down, she resists, hiring a devoted young lawyer (Ali Suliman) and taking the matter to court. Her fortitude in the face of chauvinism and bureaucratic indolence stirs the official’s empathetic wife (Rona Lipaz-Michael), but only after their situation has elaborated the adage about fences and neighbors to a dispiriting extreme, beyond any hope of constructive diplomacy (let alone friendship). Co-written by the director and Suha Arraf, and loosely based on a real event, Lemon Tree occasionally risks being carried away by its own broad strokes. But with Abbass, possibly the classiest woman in the world, as its compass, how could it go wrong?

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