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Etz Limon (Lemon Tree) (2009)



Average Rating: 7.1/10
Reviews Counted: 66
Fresh: 61 | Rotten: 5

A positive and personal Israeli film that offers an understated and thought-provoking vision of the West Bank troubles.


Average Rating: 7.2/10
Critic Reviews: 21
Fresh: 20 | Rotten: 1

A positive and personal Israeli film that offers an understated and thought-provoking vision of the West Bank troubles.



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Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 5,009

My Rating

Movie Info

Widow and empty nester Salma Zidane lives on the Palestinian West Bank, in a little house flanked by lemon trees planted by her great grand parents. Unfortunately, when the Israeli minister of defense builds a house adjacent to her own, her lemon trees are deemed a security risk. Salma hires a lawyer to prevent the powerful man from having her ancestral trees removed, but the odds are stacked against her, and to make matters worse, she begins to fall in love with her lawyer. Things seem bleak,


Drama, Romance, Art House & International

Suha Arraf, Eran Riklis

Nov 3, 2009


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All Critics (67) | Top Critics (22) | Fresh (61) | Rotten (5) | DVD (1)

Eran Riklis, who directed and co-wrote with Suha Arraf (they also collaborated on The Syrian Bride), has made a compelling movie that takes its strength from the ground-level picture it gives of the human aspect of the problems in that part of the world.

August 23, 2009 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The two Israelis who take her side are female, which underscores the film's message: a little less machismo might save a lot more than trees.

June 12, 2009 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The pungence of Lemon Tree is in the surreal moments that capture the pervasive unease in Gaza, and in the quiet strength of Abbass' performance.

June 4, 2009 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is a film about a problem, not a solution, and it's effectively upsetting.

May 15, 2009 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
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The story, based on a real incident, may be simplistic, but that's the nature of fables. The direction is sure-handed, and the acting is good, particularly by the very appealing Abbass.

May 8, 2009 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Lemon Tree offers the bittersweet satisfaction of understanding a thorny situation a bit better. In a uniformly strong cast, Hiam Abbass is outstanding as the proud, lovely Salma.

May 7, 2009 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A touching tale of forbidden fruit in the Middle East.

January 3, 2011 Full Review Source:

En general no me gusta decir que una película es "necesaria" (un facilismo rimbombante en el que suelen caer muchos críticos), pero en este caso debo hacer una excepción.

October 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

Abbass's starkly moving performance and the film's closing shots make this metaphor for the unsolvable unforgettable.

September 29, 2009 Full Review Source: CultureCatch

The vivid cinematography gives the viewer glimpses of scenic locations throughout Israel. This is a quiet and somber journey that allows lots of time for thought and reflection on the current state of affairs in the Middle East.

June 20, 2009 Full Review Source: Entertainment Spectrum
Entertainment Spectrum

While the entire cast is very good, Abbass must carry most of the film, with little dialogue. Her subtly expressive face is a script unto itself, conveying everything from formal, traditional modesty to angry defiance.

June 19, 2009
Kansas City Star

Has a distinct point of view on the Israeli-Palestinian impasse, but expresses it with considerable finesse as well as emotional power.

June 17, 2009 Full Review Source: One Guy's Opinion
One Guy's Opinion

The sensuousness of Lemon Tree is its glory.

June 12, 2009 Full Review Source: Baltimore Sun
Baltimore Sun

Writer-director Eran Riklis handles these questions subtly and thoughtfully, tying the little struggle over the trees to larger issues without turning "Lemon Tree" into a parable.

June 12, 2009 Full Review Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

It's worth seeing Lemon Tree simply for the performance of Hiam Abbass, who is magnificent in her dignity and determination.

June 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Playback:stl

The Lemon Tree has a big plot hole that's overcome by both Abbass' efforts and the story's tone: dramatic but frustrated and slyly deadpan at heart.

June 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Oregonian

Being dry is not necessarily a bad thing for a movie, at least when that dryness includes humor. But Lemon Tree is too dour and too humorless for its own good.

June 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City | Comments (2)
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

It's not fantastic, but if you like Abbass in The Visitor, she's even better here.

May 8, 2009 Full Review Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press
St. Paul Pioneer Press

While the script crackles along, the visuals are powerfully uninteresting.

May 6, 2009 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

Audience Reviews for Etz Limon (Lemon Tree)

A story of pride and principal. A Palestinian woman's lemons come into harms way when an Israeli politician moves in next door. It's almost like one of those stories where neighbors go mental at the size of each others trees. The only difference being, here there are far more complex and interesting political issues at hand. The film is a moving testament to those that cannot be bought. The parallel story of the wife of the politician, sympathetic to the cause of the Palestinian woman is also a nice companion story that adds to the main narrative. The film does tend to trip over itself when it comes to the politics. It is far too concerned with portraying any character, against the protagonist, in a villainous light. The defense minister comes off as callous and careless while his secret service just seem incompetently paranoid. All this is at the expense of a sweet love story blossoming between the woman and her newly appointed lawyer.
July 22, 2009

Super Reviewer

A most infuriating film, pitting a Palestinian widow against the security forces of the Israeli defense minister whose family has moved in next door. Not only does the widow, Salma Zidane (Hiam Abbass), have to contend with Israeli bureaucracy and the Israeli justice system that is arrayed against her, but she must also defend her honor with her Palestinian neighbors, who do nothing to lift a finger to help her in her struggle. The bone of contention is the lemon grove which lies between the adjacent properties and is judged to be a potential haven for terrorists. That the grove is the legacy which Salma received from her father, has stood for over fifty years and provides her sole source of income, the wheels of justice slowly grind her down. She is aided in her fight by an idealistic young lawyer, Ziad Daud (Ali Suliman). The defense minister's wife, played by Romna Lipaz-Michael, is Salma's silent ally, but she, too, is powerless to offer any real aid. The cast is superb, and the script sparse, but together they clearly convey the frustration and futility experienced by the Palestinian people. The final scene leaves one feeling hollow. A terrific look from another perspective at the human tragedy of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
October 2, 2009
Mark Abell

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic]Most homeowners would love to have a lemon grove overlooking their property but the one in "The Lemon Tree" is in the West Bank and is owned by Salma Zidane(Hiam Abbass), a widow. On the other side of the border in Israel, the new defense minister Israel Tavon(Doron Tavory) has moved in with his wife Mira(Rona Lipaz-Michael). Fearing potential terrorists hiding themselves in the trees, he orders them removed. To Salma, who barely makes any money off the lemons, it is a point of pride since the trees have been in her family for the past fifty years and she hires a young lawyer, Ziad(Ali Suliman), to bring the case to court. They lose the first round but appeal to the Supreme Court.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"The Lemon Tree" is a deceptively and quietly devastating movie that works on multiple levels to dissect life in the West Bank and Israel, most importantly on a personal level with performances to match. It is a movie that calls for peace, showing a different way to fight a battle than violence in a land full of missed opportunities for communication. The new security wall is only a part of this problem. This is also a movie that is set in societies that are both dominated by men, focusing on two lonely women, both who also have grown children living in Washington, DC. I know. I know. What are the odds? Look at it this way. Hypothetically, their paths might never cross in their home countries but the potential is definitely there in the United States. Just don't pay any attention to the middle-aged white guy who is screaming all the time. [/font]
May 24, 2009
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Marvellous true story. A story of communication or lack of it across political and religious divides. The neutral viewer can only imagine how this tale would have ended with simple discussion.
January 20, 2010
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Lemon Tree (DE)
  • Lemon Tree (Etz Limon) (UK)
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