Back to IndieWire

TIFF Capsule Review: ‘Zaytoun’

TIFF Capsule Review: 'Zaytoun'

This period adventure story revisits the days of the Lebanese Civil War and the early stages of the ill-fated Israeli incursion into Lebanon. It follows young Fahed (Abdallah El Akal) as he witnesses the death of his father in an attack on a Palestinian refugee camp and his escape from Beirut with an unlikely companion, an Israeli pilot, Yoni (Stephen Dorff), whose plane is shot down. “Zaytoun,” by Eran Riklis (“The Syrian Bride,” “Lemon Tree”) is a road movie that heads toward Israel and toward the village there that Fahed’s family was forced to leave, as the two meet up with everything but peace along the way. The bond between Israeli pilot and angry Palestinian boy careens through the film with a rough-edged sentimentality. The suggestion is that all enemies can get along once they get to know each other, even in the most desperate of circumstances. Dream away. In this expression of Israeli-Arab wish fulfillment, written by Nader Rizq, a Palestinian living in the U.S., there’s too much warm-hearted optimism for either Israelis or Arabs to take it too seriously. The farther you get away from the Middle East, the better this film will play. Newcomer Abdallah El Akal plays Fahed with a cocky composure. Shot in Israel, the production dresses up (or down) Haifa as besieged Beirut. Israel never looked so ruined. As pilot and young boy flee Lebanese Phalangists, Israeli planes and Palestinian patrols in a Mercedes taxi, the car’s radio blares “Stayin’ Alive,” a reminder of the indiscriminate nature of war and proof that the earnest Riklis hasn’t lost his sense of humor. Criticwire grade: B [David D’Arcy]

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Reviews and tagged , , ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox