Director – Zaza Urushadze (The Confession)
Cast – Lembit Ulfsak, Giorgi Nakashidze, Misha Meskhi, Elmo Nüganen
Plot – It’s 1992 and war rages on in a remote area of Europe where gentle tangerine farmer and Estonian Ivo (Ulfsak) finds himself housing two wounded fighters from opposing sides of the conflict, creating a complex dilemma for himself and his uninvited house-guests.
“The cinema is one big fraud”
Review by Eddie on 21/01/2021
In many ways Tangerines is a small film.
A film focused on a small group of individuals, held up mostly within the confines of elder statesman Ivo’s farmhouse, the scope of Zaza Urushadze’s film is intimate and human centered but its grand themes of acceptance and humanity in the face of wartime and differing views creates a universally relatable tale that will move and inspire in equal measure.
Filmed in Estonia, Tangerines is one of only a handful of films from the small European country to be nominated for both and Academy Award and Golden Globe and while its initial release may’ve seen the film garner interest of a small-scale around the globe, its stature as one of the modern era’s most interesting and moving war set dramas has only grown over the years, showcasing what can be done with nothing more than a bright idea, some great actors and a tale of fruit in the heat of bloody civil wars.
Getting straight down to business, Tangerines quickly introduces us to determined farmer Ivo and his business partner Margus, two men trying their best to push forward with their farming dreams despite their country raging war between Estonian’s and Chechen’s citizens, a situation made even more complicated when the two men must help save two soldiers that have been wounded in their abandoned village who just so happen to be fighting for warring sides.
From here on out Tangerines set’s about a tension riddle tale as Ivo tries his best to ensure these two soldiers, Ahmed and Nika survive their wounds but also each other as they recover in Ivo’s humble home and learn to appreciate the fact they are in fact not so different to one another.
The film ticks a number of familiar narrative boxes off as it paces along at a steady and brisk tempo in a short sub-90 minute runtime but Urushadza film offers up a number of surprises along the way and delivers everything in such a heartfelt manner than you will be enthralled for the most part of this moving and unique drama.
Accompanied by some great scenery and a memorable score from composer Niaz Diasamidze, Tangerines is a fine example of foreign film-making and touching example of the power of the human spirit when used for good.
Final Say –
A small film with a big heart, Tangerines is a war drama with a difference and an absolute delight to watch. It may not break any new ground along the way, but this is a little seen gem you’d do well to seek out.
4 cups of tea out of 5