dir. Zaza Urushadze
£6.00 (£4.50 conc.)
Our monthly Nordic Film Nights travels to Baltics and continues with Estonian-Georgian collaboration, an OSCAR NOMINEE anti war drama MANDARIINID/ TANGERINES, by director-writer Zaza Urushadze.
It’s 1992 and war has come to Abkhazia, but that won’t shift Ivo (Lembit Ulfsak) who has chosen to stay, making boxes for the tangerines harvested by his neighbour Margus (Elmo Nüganen).
The core drama kicks off following a nearby battle between Georgian soldiers and the Abkhazian separatists. Two wounded survivors, one from each faction, end up taking shelter with the unshakable Ivo.
Ahmed (Giorgi Nakhashidze), a furious Chechen, still seems intent on doing away with Niko (Mikheil Meskhi), the Georgian, but Ivo manages to convince them to suspend hostilities while under his protection. Various allegorical tensions simmer while Ivo goes about his business. As the war impinges, the tense conversations over cups of tea give way to bursts of action. Ivo’s house becomes the demilitarised zone, and Niko and Ahmed must suppress their hatred of each other while Ivo suppresses panic about all his unpicked tangerines going to waste.
Zaza Urushadze’s feature fits into a tradition of antiwar narratives that stretches through Frank O’Connor’s Guests of the Nation back to RC Sherriff’s Journey’s End. Like those pieces, Tangerines is intent on locating the personal tragedies in political conflict. The film also carries traces of the rural folk cinema.
The actors deliver the finely balanced dialogue with a sincerity that kicks aside all intimations of banality. Rein Kotov’s cinematography is alive to rich landscape and richer faces.
“Eloquent anti-war film may not break new ground, but is deeply affecting” The Hollywood Reporter
“Engaging, intelligent, anti-war storytelling” 4 stars, Guardian
“Tangerines is an example of lean, unadorned old-school filmmaking where familiar style and technique combine to unexpectedly potent effect” Los Angeles Times
“Georgian writer-director Zaza Urushadze avoids histrionics or moralizing, relying on a strong cast that expresses the film’s central argument about war’s absurdity largely through taciturn action, not words” Washington Post
“A quietly profound study of the unfathomable nature of conflict” The Times