Watch Vodka Lemon
- 1 hr 24 min
Vodka Lemon is a 2003 tragicomedy directed by Iranian filmmaker Hiner Saleem. The film is set in a remote village in Armenia which is perpetually covered in snow, and follows the lives of the villagers as they struggle with poverty, isolation, and their own regrets. The film primarily focuses on the character of Hamo, played by Romen Avinian, an elderly widower who works as a driver of a minibus that rarely has any passengers. In the opening scene, we see Hamo visiting his wife's grave and sharing a drink of vodka with her. This establishes the central motif of the film, the titular vodka lemon, which symbolizes the bleak, bitter reality of the characters' lives.
Despite the heavy themes, the film is quite humorous and whimsical. The villagers have a knack for finding joy in even the most mundane activities, such as waiting for the bus that never comes or trying to warm up their frozen feet. There are also several moments of magical realism, such as when Hamo's son appears to him in a dream or when a woman lifts up a stone to reveal a table full of food.
As the story progresses, we are introduced to a cast of quirky characters, such as the flirtatious milkmaid Nina (Lala Sarkissian) and the Czech immigrant driver Nick (Ivan Franek). Hamo and Nina strike up a tentative romance, but it is complicated by their respective pasts and the fact that Hamo is too proud to accept help from anyone.
The film portrays the harsh realities of life in a post-Soviet country with unflinching honesty, but it also finds moments of beauty and hope. There are scenes of stunning natural beauty, such as when Hamo and Nina go for a walk in the snow, and there are moments of human kindness and connection, such as when the villagers band together to help an old woman carry her husband's coffin up a steep hill.
Vodka Lemon is a poignant and bittersweet film that captures the resilience and humor of people living in a harsh environment. It is a film that is both tragic and comedic, and it celebrates the small moments of joy that make life worth living. The cast, particularly Romen Avinian and Lala Sarkissian, give powerful and nuanced performances, and the cinematography by Christophe Pollock is stunning. Overall, Vodka Lemon is a unique and unforgettable film that defies easy categorization.