Critic Consensus: Tangerines' impassioned message and the strong work of a solid cast more than make up for the movie's flawed narrative and uneven structure.
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Critic Reviews for Tangerines
Though the themes about war and peace will be familiar, this is good, old-fashioned storytelling - with a high level of craftsmanship.
It is difficult not to be moved by "Tangerines," which begins to feel like a legend despite one's nagging sense something is missing from the film's hasty third act.
Writer-director Zaza Urushadze turns this fragile premise into a superior chamber drama.
Tangerines, the first Estonian picture nominated for the foreign-film Oscar, has a heart as ripe as the citrus fruit of its title, but its message doesn't yield much juice.
The acting is solid; Ulfsak is ideally cast as the easygoing, timeworn woodworker.
Audience Reviews for Tangerines
With one of the most beautiful scores of the year, this is a powerful and deeply melancholy anti-war story that uses a long-unresolved conflict to show us how two good, three-dimensional men could have been friends in different circumstances hadn't they been caught on opposite sides of a war.
Don't really know where I would even begin the review for this movie. I guess first things first would be the fact that I thought this was a really damn good movie. It can even be a great one in parts. It's not what I would call a great movie from beginning to end, but I do think it offers a really compelling and satisfying story. Part of it is the fact that the story really is very simple. I don't mean that in a derogatory manner whatsoever, I just mean the fact that the story is simply told. The film takes place during the Chechen-Georgian war and has two characters from each side injuring themselves after a small conflict with each other and being taken in Ivo into his house until they heal up accordingly. The film deals with these two having to co-exist in the same house despite the fact that both want to kill each for, literally, no reason other than the fact that their respective sides are at war. So it's an interesting, but not necessarily unique, approach. I wouldn't say that this is so much an anti-war movie as much as it is accepting of the fact that these things will keep on happening until the end of time, but it explores simple themes about peace, conflict and how war doesn't really solve anything. It only begets more and more violence. The fact of the matter is that these two, Nika and Ahmed, the soldiers, would have kept at it if not for the fact that Ivo's wise ways got through to them. The film isn't sentimental in any way whatsoever, so I do think that it reaches the natural conclusion of Nika and Ahmed gaining some small aspect of respect for each other despite their varying differences. I like how despite the seriousness of the film, they do give you these little moments of calm and even comedy. Those moments never last. In fact, on almost every occasion, something worse happens. So the movie keeps you on your toes, anything could happen at any time. That's how volatile the situation the characters find themselves in. The film definitely has a really strong message, but, the great thing about it is the fact that it doesn't force its message down on you. It has its moral and all of that, but it never forces you to think alike. You make your own conclusions. I've always been anti-war, so the film provided a message I agree with, but not because it was forceful or heavy-handed in getting it across. The film also benefits from some really strong performances. Like all around. Lembit Ulfsak, who plays Ivo, is phenomenal here. He's understated yet powerful all at the same time. Strong character development is also prevalent here. So, really, not much to complain about when talking about this movie. I felt there was something missing that would've pushed it into greatness, but this is still a really strong movie with a great performances and really good storytelling. It's on Amazon Prime, so get to watching.
Flawless realism. Not a story of war, but a story of people. In the face of a nuanced conflict, simplicity is often a bad thing (see: the blockbuster American war film of the week...), but in this case simple is good, because war is just impetus; the rest is just interactions between men. A well-deserved Academy Award nomination.
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