The Olive Harvest

by Greg Corradini

SDir. Hanna Elias

Set amidst the brutal Israeli and Palestinian conflict, “The Olive Harvest” is a film struggling to be a dramatic social critique.

Palestinian political prisoner Mazen (Mazen Saade) returns home a hero after burning Israeli settlements that were encroaching his village’s olive groves.

Now a poet and practitioner of peace, Mazen settles down to farm the olive groves but accidentally falls for his younger brother Taher’s (Taher Najeeb) secret lover Raeda (Raeda Adon).

The love triangle brings about the central conflict in “The Olive Harvest.”

The brothers’ kinship and mutual land sharing turns into a bitter and violent feud that director and writer Hanna Elias attempts to link with the larger Israeli and Palestinian conflict.

Although Elias, a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles film school, tries to frame “The Olive Harvest” as a poignant drama, the tight narrative quickly unwinds into underdeveloped characters and subplots.

Montage moments seem pushy and melodramatic. Before strong characters are set in motion, viewers are hit with an ineffective montage. Compassionate music plays while Mazen sits in poetic contemplation, Raeda cries and open shots show the Israeli settlements being constructed.

Filmed with an Israeli crew and Palestinian actors, Elias’ “The Olive Harvest” has significance because it at least tries to expose the absurdity of violence that pervades the conflict.

Unfortunately, the Palestinian/Israeli conflict is wrenching enough that it doesn’t need any further dramatic baggage.