Lemonade (Luna de Miere) – Review [Tribeca 2018]

Lemonade is playing at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. Find screening information HERE.

Sometimes, we as Americans get so caught up in our patriotism – the unwavering love for red, white and blue – that taking a step back and truly examining our culture can be quite jarring. The Hungarian film Lemonade struck a chord with me in that it showed my “land of the free” from a different perspective that is rarely explored on screen. The protagonist Mara’s story is extremely frustrating, timely, and most of all… important.

Mara came to the United States on a temporary visa as a caretaker, and hastily married her patient Daniel. Early in the movie her son Drago comes to join her life. Everything seems to be perfect. Then, just about everything goes wrong. Without spoiling anything, Mara is faced with abuses of power at every level. You’ll want to turn away because the situation is horrible.

Lemonade is a fantastic directorial debut from Ioana Uricaru. The story she tells here is a microcosm of many immigrants. Through the tale of this single woman, Uricaru explores many prevalent themes. Notice how many American flags are scattered throughout the 88-minutes? An object that is supposed to represent the ideals of this great nation become a symbol of dread by the credits.

The reasoning behind the title is a bit tricky, but I think it refers to “If life gives you Lemons…” Mara is trying to make the best of the hand life has dealt her. Interestingly enough, the original Hungarian title is Luna de Miere, which translates to Honeymoon. I’d honestly prefer that title, but that’s not a valid criticism of the film itself.

This is a fantastic film all around – one of my early favorites in 2018, but there are two problems. Firstly, the acting is mediocre. The cast is all unknown, and aside from the lead actress Mãlina Manovici they all give hammy performances and don’t deliver dialogue well. It’s an ignorable problem because the script is amazing despite this. The second issue is the ending. Most viewers will want a sense of closure, especially with this genre. Lemonade just kind of finishes, with no indication that the story is wrapping up.

I definitely recommend catching Lemonade at the Tribeca Film Festival this week. Hopefully a distributor picks it up for theatrical release. Be warned there are a lot of subtitles, so that might be a deterrent.

I give Lemonade an A-.