TANGERINES, from filmmaker Zaza Urushadze, proves a major winner. Short (only 87 minutes), crisp, economical yet enormously affecting, the movie details what takes place in and around a tangerine grove in the Apkhazeti region of Georgia, back in 1990, as hostilities break out. Soldiers and the few remaining townspeople come and go, while the movie concentrates on a quartet of characters: the grandfather who owns a small factory in which the titular tangerines are crated, his friend who owns the grove in which they grow, and two soldiers -- from opposing sides.
Of the two soldiers, one is a mercenary, which would normally change things from the usual my side/your side conflict -- except that in this case the mercenary has a personal stake in things, as his comrade-in-arms has just been killed by the "other side."
Timbuktu, was one of the five nominees for this past year's Best Foreign Language Film, and both are better than the beautifully photographed but baldly predetermined movie, Ida, that actually won the prize.
Samuel Goldwyn Films, Tangerines opens this Friday, April 17, in New York City at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema, and on the Friday, April 24 in Los Angeles at Laemmle's Royal, Playhouse 7 and Town Center 5.