Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
Original title: Mandariinid
Estonia/Georgia, 2013. Allfilm, Georgian Film. Screenplay by Zaza Urushadze. Cinematography by Niaz Diasamidze. Produced by Ivo Felt. Music by Niaz Diasamidze. Production Design by Tea Telia. Film Editing by Alexander Kuranov. Academy Awards 2014. Golden Globe Awards 2014.
A village in the Caucausus is nearly empty, its mostly Estonian population having gone back to their native homeland with the outbreak of conflict by Georgian separatists. Two of the remaining stragglers are an aged carpenter and his friend, whom the older gentleman is helping finish harvesting and selling his field of tangerine trees. The relative peace of this enterprise is interrupted when soldiers have a shoot-out on their road that results in only two survivors, one a Chechen mercenary and the other a severely injured Georgian soldier. Now the gentlemen must find a way to administer to two ailing men under one roof despite the fact that they will kill each other first chance they get. The allegories that could result from such a story (a field of citrus fruit is the first red flag) for some reason never become any kind of pedantic moralizing, likely because the characters are so rich and the acting so exceptionally good. A beautiful, deeply touching film, devastating throughout and explosive in its conclusion, this is outstanding on all counts.