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DVD Review: ‘Zaytoun’ Pulls Off An Unlikely Friendship

This film begins with the thought of a slow, dragged out trip in the dessert.  But as it continues, Zaytoun shows an intriguing amount of character development that eventually leads to a beautiful friendship.

Set in Beirut, during the war of 1982, Fahed (Abdallah El Akal), a 12-year-old Palestinian refugee meets Yoni (Stephen Dorff), a 30-year-old Israeli combat pilot when he is captured by the Palestine army.  The two immediately despise each other and Fahed is especially bitter after the death of his father, who died as a martyr protecting his family.

Before Fahed’s father died, he took great care of a barely surviving olive (known as zaytoun in Arabic) tree.  Fahed’s one wish is to plant the tree in the family’s ancestral village that is now located in Israel so that he may memorialize his father.  With Yoni desperate to escape his prisoner’s cell, the two find common ground and decide they would be beneficial to each other.  Fahed agrees to let Yoni out, still in chains, only if he can guarantee him entrance to the Israeli border.  Once the two begin their long journey, the road traveled isn’t an easy one.  They stumble upon many problems, including the police, car troubles, and the constant worry of whether or not the other one is trustworthy.

Truthfully, this friendship is about as improbable as they come.  I don’t know if planting a tree would necessarily warrant a moment of truce for two people that are fighting for opposing countries.  However unlikely the plot may be, the story ends up working really well.  It might be because the two maintain a love/hate relationship through out the film, or it may be because it is hard to believe anyone would turn on an innocent kid even if he is technically your enemy.  But I’m going to go with the most obvious fact;  the performances by Dorff and Akal are outstanding and give this film plenty to work with for an extended amount of time.  The transformation of these characters is subtle, but as it continues the audience begins to believe in their relationship more and more, and it isn’t long before you will also be touched by it.

Spoken in English, Hebrew, and Arabic, Zaytoun provides originality, terrific acting, and a heartfelt premise.

Zaytoun is out on DVD February 18th.

Zaytoun Movie Trailer HD

Originally posted on RedCarpetCrash.com