One of the films that went unseen by me from last year’s crop of Best Foreign Language nominees was “Tangerines,” which told the harrowing story of a small band of Estonians in a rural Abkhazian village doing their damndest to cling to the last fleeting vestiges of humanity in an increasingly violent and turbulent world (the action unfolds in the thick of the War in Abkhazia, ’92-’93). The film ultimately lost to Pawel Pawlikowski’s “Ida” but critical word has been mostly favorable: The Hollywood Reporter sang the film’s praises, saying that it was both “deeply affecting” as well as “highly effective… thanks to the skills of the actors and director Zaza Urushadze.” And if this new trailer is any indication of the film’s quality, I can safely say I’ll be buying a ticket.
On the basis of this trailer, “Tangerines” appears to be a very bleak, gravely serious film, although one that certainly looks to be elegant in its execution. Distributor Samuel Goldwyn also seems to be playing up the thriller-ish elements of director Urushadze’s wartime drama, giving us some rather scintillating glimpses of standoffs in battle-scarred militaristic hell-scapes. And yet, “Tangerines” could also turn out to be deceptively introspective and subtle, perhaps more so then its slightly souped-up trailer suggests. Those who have seen and been moved by the film have also called it a kind of poetic elegy, and also an ode to those hardened souls who attempt to maintain their humanity under the most trying circumstances (and we’re guessing that the tangerine connotation of the title has something to do with peace and nourishment, although director Urushadze recently told Deadline that “Abkhazia is the land of tangerines”).
Samuel Goldwyn Films has recently acquired “Tangerines” for a U.S. release, and it will open on April 17th. Check out the stunning trailer below.