Harvesting peace

Tangerines3TangerinesOpens Friday, May 29. Pageant Theatre. Not rated.

Rated 3.0

In Tangerines, a solitary Estonian farmer named Ivo is worried that he may be unable to harvest his crop of tangerines on time. Friends from the local militia intend to help out, but the countryside is in the midst of a hardscrabble civil war, and each day brings new uncertainties.

After a Chechen patrol and a group of Georgians get into a gun battle on the road that passes his orchard, Ivo and his friend Margus sort through the wreckage and find that two of the combatants, one from each side, are still alive. Ivo takes both men into his home and tries to give them some peace and quiet while their wounds heal.

As played by craggy-faced Lembit Ulfsak, Ivo has an air of earthy moral authority. As such, he is able to talk the convalescing gunmen into a truce for the duration of their stay under his roof. The Chechen, a burly mercenary named Ahmed, respects the truce because he respects Ivo, but their bond gets tested almost immediately when the Georgian, a sad-eyed zealot named Niko, returns to full consciousness.

Further, increasingly drastic challenges crop up—the local militia stops by to check on Ivo, rebels firebomb Margus’ farmhouse, another Chechen patrol tries to arrest Ahmed and thus provokes a devastating gun battle. Georgians pretend to be Chechens, Chechens kill other Chechens, a Chechen protects a Georgian and the Georgian will later attempt to return the favor.

The carefully charted anti-war message comes across loud and clear. But the film comes most fully to life as a portrait of the fleeting partnership between two men of honor, a mercenary and a pacifist who’d prefer to be growing tangerines.