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Vodka Lemon

Tom's Recommended Film of the Week

Vodka Lemon

Hiner Saleem
has an interesting outlook on life. You'll have no doubts about that after watching Vodka Lemon.

Born in Iraqi Kurdistan territory, Saleem left in his teens to avoid the oppression of SaddamHussein. His Kurdish origins have effected all of his films, may of which have been shot in Kurd territories in Armenia and more recently even in Iraq, after the U.S. invasion. Many of the elements in Saleem's films may seem symbolic, but in reality his recollections of Kurdish life coupled with what he experiences while shooting in Kurdish locations often dictates this artists sense of style. Put simply, if it looks good and rings true Saleem may use it in the film.

This approach gives Vodka Lemon an artistic quality. A story, which seems simple, but becomes more complex the more you mull it over. Framing and photography present the film as if it were a series of paintings in a gallery. Characters which you understand immediately, without any dialogue, but which you feel compelled to continue following just to see how they will navigate this barren existence. The situations are established and the viewer is left with as much hope for the characters as they lack for themselves. But the immortal theme of "love finds the way" is never far from the scope of the camera and, as the endorsement of Best Film from the Venice Film Festival indicates, Vodka Lemon provides a sense of satisfaction.

A simple story, with interesting characters and vast snow packed vistas, Vodka Lemon will leave you with a feeling of what life is like for the Kurds. Humor in the face of insurmountable adversity, or, to quote Saleems grandfather "Our past is sad, our present is catastrophic, but fortunately we have no future."