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In 1982, amid the Lebanese Civil War, Israeli pilot Yoni (Stephen Dorff) is shot down over Beirut and is taken prisoner by inhabitants of a Palestinian refugee camp. Among the captors is ten-year-old Fahed, whose father obsessively tends to his prized, but sickly olive tree, refusing to replant it until they return to their ancestral land. Despite his deep-rooted hatred for Yoni, Fahed realizes he can use him to get past the border and into "Palestine" to plant his father's olive tree. The two embark on a harrowing and dangerous journey - one that tests the very boundaries of… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 48%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"We've ... got to admit right up front: Part of our interest was simply to see what Stephen Dorff is doing playing an Israeli POW."
‑ Tom Russo, Boston Globe
"A trek that is occasionally very unlikely, but moving nonetheless."
‑ John Anderson, Newsday
"Despite its "The Defiant Ones" liberal Zionist pieties, there's solid drama and performances."
‑ Louis Proyect,
"The movie means well enough, yet Zaytoun doesn't do enough to upset expectations, trusting in the power of warm orchestral strings and softening demeanors to coax the viewer into a deceptive comfort zone."
‑ Brian Orndorf,
"Lively characters and a series of offbeat events make this movie watchable, except that we never believe anything that happens."
‑ Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
"It's probably best viewed as a fable that tries to strike a hopeful note amid the many woes of the Middle East, but the blunt filmmaking and the near-sentimentality make it hard to buy into."
‑ Walter V. Addiego, San Francisco Chronicle
"It's just all too breezy to have any real effect."
‑ Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times
"Zaytoun is relatively successful in tiptoeing through the political minefield of the subject matter, and it offers out the promise of hope and possibility without raising expectations."
‑ Jared Eisenstat, Film Comment Magazine
"Visually operatic street scenes, panoply of characters, Dorff brusque to paternal, talented ensemble of Palestinian/Israeli-Arab actors [make] this crossing worth traveling."
‑ Nora Lee Mandel,
"Though Dorff isn't the only thing wrong with Zaytoun, he is still its biggest liability, and the rare case where one miscast role ruins a film's essential premise."
‑ Andrew Lapin, The Dissolve
"The resolution is a bit Hollywood, but then who says all films about the Middle East have to be relentlessly grim? "Zaytoun" dares to find common ground and hope amidst political confusion."
‑ Tom Long, Detroit News
"Given how much Zaytoun follows the playbook, the pic's portentous ending is extraordinarily subtle, and will resonate best with those who know the history of the region."
‑ John Anderson, Variety
"It's a powerful drama that works on a couple of levels."
‑ Chris Hewitt (St. Paul), St. Paul Pioneer Press
"... never strikes the right balance of comedy and melodrama, and winds up trivializing the plight of his characters in the process."
‑ Todd Jorgenson,
"It misfires in tone, depth, and political tact, dumbing down rather than providing new insights into the Israel-Palestine conflict."
‑ Tomas Hachard, Slant Magazine
More reviews for Zaytoun on Rotten Tomatoes