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‘Tangerines’ anti-war movie review

May 25, 2015 in Blogs

By Political Zach Foster

I had the opportunity to catch a screening of a well-reviewed foreign film, Tangerines(2015). Tangerines tells the story of an Estonian farmer, Ivo, in wartime Abkhazia (northwest Georgia, between Russia and Turkey). Ivo doesn’t care about the war or to take sides; all he wants is to harvest his crop of tangerines and be left alone.
The remote mountain village Ivo shares with his business partner, Margus, is exquisitely beautiful. It could be the scene on the back of a postcard. The village is also a ghost town, as the inhabitants fled in the early days of the war. To Ivo’s horror, the war comes to his doorstep only days before the tangerines are to be harvested!
After a loud firefight rages past the village, Ivo and Margus check the battlefield for survivors. There are two: a Chechen (pro-Russian) mercenary and a Georgian soldier. Both are badly wounded and require medical care, and both are taken to Ivo’s house where they begin their recuperation. Ivo and Margus must then find a way to keep the two warfighters from killing each other while they heal. They must also hide one or the other from enemy troops, depending on what nation’s army or militia passes through the contested area. As if they didn’t have enough problems, they still need to find a way to harvest an entire crop of ripe tangerines!
This movie is delightful and thought-provoking in a variety of ways. For starters, there’s not a whole lot of war violence in this movie. The violence and the impact of the war are mostly implied, so this film is heavily performance-based. I like the lead actor’s performance as Ivo; he’s a stern grandfather who imposes his authority in his own house, but will also surprise people with a subtle-yet-irreverent joke. Ivo comes across as James Stewart in Shenandoah, but with a touch of Denis Leary in The Ref.
Next are Ahmed, the Chechen mercenary, and Niko, the Georgian soldier. Ahmed is an extroverted, often loud-mouthed warrior who often vocalizes his intent to kill Niko. Niko, an introverted intellectual, …read more