New film from director Zara Urushadze is a beautifully shot, surprisingly gentle portrait of human endurance in a violent period of Eastern European history.
Set in 1992 Tangerines focuses on the conflict between Georgia and Abkhazan following the disillusion of the Soviet Union. The film tells the story of two Estonian tangerine farmers, Ivo and Margus, whose families have been forced to flee back to Estonia as a result of the growing bloodshed. Out of sentimentality the pair choose to linger behind in order to harvest the last of their Tangerine crop.
With war on their doorstep, it's a matter of time before Ivo and Margus find their land caught in the middle of a bloody shoot-out between Georgian and Abkhazani soldiers. Fatal injuries having been incurred on both sides, the pair find themselves having to nurse two soldiers on opposing sides back to health.
What follows is a complex play between violence and vulnerability. The two enemy solders are forced to live side-by-side, to respect those who save their lives by in turn showing respect to one another. As friendships slowly evolve, Urushadze's film becomes a comical exploration into human stubbornness, as well as the potential for forgiveness and the futile, increasingly meaningless sacrifices of war.
The stunning Georgian landscape is almost a character in itself: like the old farmer Ivo, life here is slow and calm, the stillness of the vast mountains are at ugly odds with the bursts of brutality that mar its silent serenity.
Whilst 'sworn enemies turned friends' may not be the most original of plot devices, the parable of pacifism presented by Tangerines makes the film a warm, sensitive portrait of love and sacrifice – set in a vastly under-represented period of recent history. Urushadze's film ultimately questions the nature of institutionalised hatred and its repercussions on civilian life – with an overriding message of hope in humanity.
|Tangerines: Estonian film review
|Curzon Soho, 99 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 5DY | MAP
|Leicester Square (underground)
18 Sep 15 – 30 Nov 15, Showing times vary
|£ determined by cinema
|Click here to book via Curzon Soho website