Action / Adventure / Drama / Thriller / War

IMDb Rating 6.6 10 1400


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Ashraf Barhom as Lead PLO Fighter
Alice Taglioni as Leclair
Ali Suliman as Syrian Officer

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Nozz 6 / 10

Fine, but carries its message a little heavily

Eran Riklis likes stories in which a long, picturesque trip is paralleled by an inner journey of discovering the past, or the self. In Zeytoun, the trip is from Beirut across the border into Israel, and although I'm an Israeli who's never been to Lebanon, an aerial stock shot or two of Beirut was enough to sell me on the Lebaneseness of the locations seen in the first part of the movie, which were actually well-chosen sites in Israel. Unlike another viewer here on IMDb, I had little trouble accepting Stephen Dorff as an Israeli. Israelis come in all colors and sizes. Granted, his English was too good, but so was the Arab kid's. A brief sequence showing kids learning English verbs at school didn't really solve the problem. One makes allowances, though, when the visuals look realistic and the situation depicted is compelling, as here. My problem, and perhaps the problem of the Israeli public (which did not flock to see this movie), was that the audience is invited, a bit heavy-handedly, to sympathize with the Arab family's desire for repatriation to Israel without any balanced mention of the context in which such families found themselves outside Israel in the first place.

Reviewed by eddie_baggins 2 / 10

The central casting works against this film

It's possible for one decision to derail a movie completely, one choice by someone involved in a film that just is inherently wrong. These decisions could be something small like a musical score, costume design, cinematographer or in Eran Riklis's 2012 film Zaytoun something big like a miscast actor in the form of the seriously un-Israeli Yoni Stephen Dorff.

In a story that totally hinges on the believability and likability of its two leads, Zaytoun fails miserably. Concerning the young Palestinian boy Fahed who we are asked to root for and journey along with, actor Abdallah El Akal does a horrible job with his boy acting not the right side of enduring or not the comical side of rebel. It's a difficult feat to have a child actor take lead in a film and make it work and Riklis can't achieve the feat here. With Fahed such an unlikeable and uninteresting glue to the film all hope is rested onto Hollywood B list extraordinaire Stephen Dorff to move the picture forward but in a horrible misjudgement of casting he is doomed before a single frame was even shot with the plausibility of him pulling off being an Israeli so impossible that it's hard to even fathom why a born and breed Israeli could not of done the job and done it better. It's not that Dorff is bad perse in his acting just non-believable in his role.

With the failings of the films leads other elements of the film do not help its causes with a story that sadly can't shake the dust of mediocrity and a sense of disbelief while Riklis as a director can't add much to proceedings other than a nice opening shot and some small bursts of directional creativity. With a script overhaul, a smarter sense of direction and better cast actors you do get the sense that somewhere inside this supposed adventure/life affirming tale is a good film.

I would be confident in saying that not many have heard of this film and it's not hard to see why. With painfully few things within Zaytoun worth recommending and with a cliché story it's easy to see why this one sunk like a stone even with some advanced hype that suggested awards and box office glory. A miss-step for all involved.

1 very far from Israeli actors out of 5

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Reviewed by KnatLouie 8 / 10

Common goals can make even worst enemies best friends

This story takes place in 1982, and is about the young boy, Fahed (Abdallah El Akal), whose family has suffered a lot because of the war in Beirut. One day, an Israeli fighter pilot, Yoni (Stephen Dorff), is captured by the local forces, and Fahed sees and opportunity to free the pilot, so he can take him back to his former home, where his father wanted to plant the family's olive-tree, but never had the chance to do so, because of the war.

At first, the two are mortal enemies, only working together because they need each other to reach their individual goals: Fahed wants to return back to his old family home, and Yoni wants to escape from prison, where he is bound to be tortured and interrogated, before he is used politically to exchange prisoners from the Israelis.

But along the way, the two form a tight friendship, where they both save each others lives on numerous occasions, until they (hopefully) reach their goals. It just goes to show, that even during the worst situations, friendships can arise when you are able to look past ones differences, and instead focus on common interests and dreams.

This is the newest movie from director Eran Riklis (Etz Limon, The Syrian Bride), and he still manages to make very interesting movies on highly debated subjects about the situation in Israel and the middle east in general. The acting from the leading actors is very impressive as well, especially from the young El Akal, who should have a long career ahead of him. It is also a quite interesting turn from the otherwise rather mainstream actor, Stephen Dorff, who most people probably know best from action-films like "Blade", "Public Enemies" and "Felon".

A highly recommended film, which also can be used for educational purposes. 8/10.

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