Timely and poignant Georgian Civil War drama from Zaza Urushadze
It has been a long, patient wait for the UK release of Georgian director Zaza Urushadze’s Oscar-nominated Tangerines but it has been worth it. Set in 1992 during the war between Georgia and Abkhaz separatists, it unfolds in a small village in which simple acts of individual kindness illuminate the great folly of conflict.
As others have fled a country torn apart by civil war, Estonian immigrant farmers Ivo (a wise, weary Lembit Ulfsak) and his neighbour Margus (Elmo Nüganen) have remained in their village to harvest one last tangerine crop. When a fight breaks out in front of their home, they give shelter to Chechen mercenary Ahmed (Giorgi Nakashidze) who appears to be the lone survivor. Later, they discover that gravely wounded Georgian soldier Niko (Mikheil Meskhi) is still alive and he is also given shelter. When an individual is in pain and distress, the instinct is to offer help but their actions bring the wider feud right under their own roof. Ivo sets the rules of their confinement and gradually these sworn enemies start to find some common understanding.
Tangerines has been beautifully photographed by Rein Kotov – from the green landscapes to the candlelit glow of treacly interiors that adds to the melancholy air. This is a film that mines the profoundest truths from the simplest of stories and underlines the sheer absurdity of the situation. It is a thoughtful morality tale, handled with delicacy and precision. It also contains moments of great joy and hope as it reflects the way heightened emotions can shift from hatred to hilarity in a heartbeat. Given everything that has been happening across Europe this past summer, it couldn’t be a more timely or poignant film.
Selected release from Fri 18 Sep.