Zaza Urushadze’s “Tangerines” clearly possesses a big, beating heart, but – otherwise – it lacks much of a pulse. This wartime drama about civil unrest between Georgia and Estonia presents a fascinating situation: carpenter and tangerine farmer Margus (Lembit Ulfsak) nurses two men on opposite sides of the conflict back to health after a firefight in front of his house. As they mend physically, they also mend as neighbors.
If this sounds only slightly more nuanced than a campfire kumbaya, that’s because it is. “Tangerines” has a message as simplistic than any American film that tries to solve tribal conflicts with the “why can’t we all just be friends?” argument. Urushadze finds common ground by minimizing or ignoring differences, not by finding the elusive harmony between such disparities. Such reductive logic is more likely to impede progress.
The film has nice moments scattered here and there, and Margus’ internal conflict as a non-native whose family has already fled the area makes for some good character revelations. But overall, “Tangerines” tastes underripe. C+ /