Film Review: Tangerines


Most wars are bloody stupid, they really are. Young men and women fighting over land based on some random moment in history when it ‘belonged’ to this country or that country. Those fighting are often either doing so just for money or through blind loyalty fostered by power-hungry leaders; soldiers from both sides are mainly indistinguishable. The Caucasus have been hotly contested for centuries, firstly under Persian control before the Russian Empire conquered them in the 19th Century. Since the breakdown of the Soviet Union, there has been several localised territorial conflicts in the region.

Whilst most of the village has left the Abkhazia region of Georgia to return to their native Estonia, Ivo (Lembit Ulfsak) and Margus (Elmo Nüganen) remain. War may have broken out but the two Estonian farmers are determined to harvest their crop of tangerines. Their tranquillity is shattered when a fire-fight leads to them nursing Ahmed (Giorgi Nakashidze -A Chechen mercenary) and Niko ((Mikheil Meskhi) -A young Georgian soldier) back to health.

Tangerines is a masterly-crafted work of cinema. Zaza Urushadze tackles the futility of war without even a whiff of melodrama or over-dramatisation. Instead, he produces a beautifully shot and meticulously studied portrait of a man wearied by loss and conflict and a pair of fighters fuelled by necessity and patriotism. It would have been easy to make a point using graphic images and cynically constructed scripts. Tangerines opts for old-fashioned storytelling and is profound in a very quiet and dignified way.

Tangerines is out in cinemas on Friday.

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