Zaytoun - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Zaytoun Reviews

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½ December 18, 2015
Inspiring story across the religious and political divide of the Middle East. It's certainly the best thing to Stephen Dorff's name.
July 9, 2015
It was a good story... just not realistic...
½ February 4, 2015
"Zaytoun" es un drama sobre la relacion de un piloto israeli y un nino de Beirut que empiezan una relacion cordial mas alla de las diferencias politicas y de roles. El problema de la cinta es que el director utiliza un formato mas parecido a la comedia romantica que al drama con tintes fraternales que se supone debe ser, creando una relacion extrana entre los personajes. Stephen Dorff esta muy mal dirigido, ademas de que lo suyo son los papeles que incluyan un episodio psicotico que cambie su actitud hacia el mal, y aqui es todo lo contrario, con lo cual sale de su zona de confort sin buenos resultados. (Texto intencionalmente sin acentos).
½ December 15, 2014
The movie while bland at times, has that special something to keep you glued from beginning to end.
May 29, 2014
One can never have enough reminders: people who are taught to hate each other can find common ground when see each other as people. Director Eran Riklis uses this theme often, and while it comes across as contrived in places in "Zaytoun", it still proves a powerful message.
April 26, 2014
good hindy indy movie
½ April 26, 2014
Good foreign film showing how communication and compromise can solve conflicts more than war. Takes place in the 1980s and the plot centers on an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian boy as the soldier tries to find his way out of enemy territory and the boy tries to get past the Israeli border to see his family's former home. Stephen Dorff and his counterpart deliver a believable story of the power of friendship and how it can overcome the biggest obstacles.
½ April 3, 2014
Some reviewers considered this unrealistically hopeful and sentimental, but I found it to be a compelling portrayal of how hatred can give way to friendship, given a chance. Nor did it give us a happily-ever-after ending. Just a glimmer of hope in an otherwise tragic, never-ending conflict. Dorff was convincing as the Israeli pilot (although it's a fair question as to why they didn't use an Israeli actor for this part), and the young actor who plays Fahed was outstanding.
November 9, 2013
Thomas Singer, M.D. Huffington Post Review:

Zaytoun is a film about a most improbable and remarkable friendship between Fahed, a 12-year-old Palestinian refugee, and Yoni, a 30-year-old Israeli combat pilot. The film explores a liminal space between make-believe and reality, between a boy and a man, between Arab and Israeli, all set in the chaos of 1982 Beirut just weeks before the infamous invasion of the Shatila refugee camp where 700-800 Palestinians were slaughtered by the Lebanese Christian Phalangists with the tacit support of the Israeli armed forces. This liminal space extends to the very geography of the movie's setting which takes place in the no man's land between Lebanon and Israel, a strange borderland where horror is so dreamlike and prosaic, where hopes for peace are so remote, and where everyday reality ia a struggle for survival, control, and power

Power and powerless are the essential elements that drive the narrative of this film.
A powerless 12-year-old boy imagines in a fantasy of omnipotence that he shoots down an Israeli pilot who drops bombs in daily sorties from the apparent omnipotent cocoon of his jet plane. Is it possible that a 12-year-old boy can reverse his powerlessness of being a Palestinian refugee by reducing a fallen pilot to a state of helpless vulnerability that magically turns into a shared initiatory journey across land-mined physical, psychological, and cultural boundaries? The film's audience is asked to suspend disbelief and buy into a narrative driven by the boy's wish to memorialize his recently slain father by planting a barely surviving olive tree in the family' ancestral village that is in the dreamed of Palestine, located now in Israel. To make it even more dreamlike, we come to see that the pilot who accompanies the boy on his quest may have been the very person who killed his father by dropping a bomb on him. An initial viewing of the film absorbs one in trying to sort out the chaos of the dramatic action that unfolds in the very first scene set in Beirut's Martyrs' Square, a bombed out war zone that is also a daily marketplace of bartering, of weddings, and of refugee boys imagining they are world renowned soccer stars who can dodge the bullets of the Lebanese militia that would confine them to their camp.

There is so much to track in the chaotic unfolding of the narrative that it takes a second viewing of the film -- when one knows what happens in the plot -- to realize that this movie is most essentially a study of character, of relationship, of hatred turning into friendship. In both plot and character, the film has been dismissed by some sophisticated critics as too simplistic, too idealistic, too much a wish-fullfillment. One can understand all the criticisms, but as in baseball, judging the value of this film is a game of inches. If one sees the trajectory of this film as landing in fair territory, not foul, it is a film about the potential for transcendence through friendship, about the mutual initiation of two characters into their respective humanity, and about beauty in the midst of a nightmare.

The performances of the film's central characters are magnificent and give this film legs to stand on for a long time. Their relationship is transformative to Fahed, to Yoni, and to most in the audience. Fahed, played by Abdallah El Akai, has a supercharged, gum-smacking attitude that is infectious. His attitude is matched by a face that is so mobile and expressive that it is hard to say in words how appealing, charismatic, and convincing he is. His performance is fully matched and amplified by Stephen Dorff who plays Yoni, the Israeli pilot, who has his own trickster wiliness that allows him to keep pace with Fahed and even one-up him on occasion in their life and death, cat and mouse game. Dorff's powerful performance is anchored by a voice that is so rich and resonant that it almost becomes a homeland in itself. The dynamics of this complicated relationship are rich and supple. They form the true heart of the movie and play themselves out around a series of deceptively simple props, each of which becomes a sub-plot in itself: the olive tree, the gum, the gun, the keys, a few photographs, a soccer ball and aviator's sunglasses. In some ways, it takes only a few, simple external elements to tell this complicated story of friendship, primarily because the acting of El Akai and Dorff is so compelling that one is carried in the mutual embrace of their emotional entanglement throughout the film.

After viewing the film twice, I met with producer Fred Ritzenberg who told me the story of making the film. He said that for the first three years he devoted to developing the project, he felt like he was in a large, darkened room. He had faith that he would eventually find a doorway through which he could proceed to make the film. When the opportunity arose to meet with producer Gareth Unwin who had recently won an Oscar for The King's Speech, Ritzenberg discovered the doorway by teaming up with Unwin as co-producers. They were joined by the fine director, Eran Rilkis, and began assembling their superb cast. The rest is history. I think in some ways, we all may still be in Mr. Ritzenberg's position when we try to imagine our way out of the immense darkened room that is the tortured history of Israel and Palestine -- although it may take us many more decades to find the doorway out. Perhaps this film should be seen as a flicker of hope of our finding an end to the dark impasse that is the ancient, recurring history of the middle east.
October 16, 2013
Dorff, swung for the fences with this film to get up to A list status, and if he didn't hit it out of the park, he hit a double.
September 20, 2013
This is a film that touches you in your soul and stays with you, keeping you thinking and feeling. It is a film that hits on something deep within us and pulls our humanity into a situation that is mired in politics but is and should be about people. It reminds us that we are all from the same seed of life and that it is only over time we become people who can hate. This film brings us back to the relationships that we as humans have, and can have, with anyone, across borders and across the lines of war. I can't stop thinking about this movie, but more importantly, I can't stop feeling from this movie.
July 31, 2013
Suspenseful scenes, beautifully done and leaves audience members primed for engaging discussions.
June 2, 2013
A good tale of unlikely friendshop. Flawless acting by the child star.
April 16, 2013
Good story and performances but the movie really starts to drag in the third act. Script could have been a little better.
½ October 28, 2012
Set just prior to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon to go after the PLO, this fictional film follows un unlikely pair on an even more unlikely road trip. A downed Israeli fighter pilot, played by Stephen Dorff is aided by a Palestinian boy in escaping from his captivity and returning to Israel. A tense, but poignant film.
½ October 10, 2012
A realidade arrasadora de um país aos pedaços. Essa é a maior "mensagem" do filme, o resto é historinha.
October 10, 2012
1982. Fahed é um garoto palestino que vive em um campo de refugiados no Líbano. Há pouco tempo, ele perdeu seu pai durante um ataque israelense na região. Depois que um avião cai na vizinhança, o piloto israelense Yoni é feito prisioneiro pelos palestinos. Apesar do ódio que sente, Fahed decide ajudá-lo sob a promessa de que Yoni o ajudará a retornar à Palestina. Juntos, os dois iniciam uma longa viagem por um país em guerra, tendo de conviver até chegarem a seus respectivos países de origem.
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