Palestinian widow Salma Zidani (Abbass) lives alone in the house where she raised her family on the border between Israel and the West Bank. There she quietly cultivates the lemon grove that's grown on her property for years. When the Israeli Defense Minister (Doron Tavory) and his family move next door, the Israeli forces decree the lemon grove must be uprooted as it poses a security risk. Salma then hires a young lawyer (Suliman) to fight the action in court. Meanwhile, the Minister's wife Mira (Lipaz-Michael), mired in a troubled marriage, begins to feel a certain solidarity with her oppressed neighbor.
This fascinating, affecting film from Eran Riklis cements Abass's standing as a first-rate screen actress (most of us first met her in "The Visitor" earlier this same year). Her Salma is a triumph of human dignity and perseverance. Yet what makes this "Tree" reach toward the heavens is not just the surface allegory of long-standing tensions in the Middle East; it's also the powerful feminist message underpinning the film, as Salma's proud and defiant behavior influences Mira to finally address her own troubled life. An unusually rewarding film, at once literate and deeply felt.