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Review – Vodka Lemon

Hakop Tataryan

To this day, the hardships of a post-Soviet Armenia haunt the memories of many. Those who experienced and struggled those years have ambivalent feelings when reminiscing. They recall the cold weather with no heat and the struggle for employment, but at the same time they remember the beauty of their country, the togetherness of the people, and the hope that was in the air.

You will find yourself cuddling with the person next to you just to keep warm as Hiner Saleem’s new film “Vodka Lemon,” takes you back on a journey to the days of post-Soviet Armenia, to a village that looks to be the coldest place on earth. The troubled village is the background for a dark comedy that will evoke tears. The cast of the film has good chemistry and the film seems to flow naturally.

Meet Hamo, a white-bearded widower whose daily ritual consists of a visit to his dead wife’s grave for casual chat. Their conversation consists of Hamo lamenting about their sons and the difficulty of life. His frequent visits are a solace for Hamo. The hardships of his life can only be described by comparing them to those of Job.

Meet Nina, a widow who also visits her dead husband’s gravestone on a regular basis. One day the paths of these two meet and they discover how much they have in common, including their penniless struggle for survival, while worrying about their children.

There are several heartwarming moments as the relationship between the two develops. Needless to say, they encounter many new obstacles in the process, leaving viewers wondering if they were better off without each other.

The cold scenery only accentuates the desperation and anticipation of Nina, Hamo, and the rest of their village. It is interesting watching the family members bond and develop their friendships and love for one another. “Vodka Lemon” is a terrific film and certainly worth your while.

The film will be playing only twice in Fresno, once at 5 pm and again at 8 pm on Friday, December 3, at the Tower Theater in Fresno. Tickets are $9 dollars for the general public and $7 for seniors and students with ID.