Controversial winner of best Israeli film at the Jerusalem Film Festival, Nadiv Lapid’s daring, dialectical debut is likely to divide audiences, irrespective of religion or nationality. Lapid’s direction is as confident as Yaron, member of an elite Israeli anti-terrorist unit tasked to deal with “the Arab enemy” with blind eyes and flash of violence.
In the first of the film’s distinct halves, Lapid shows Yaron and his colleagues at rest, their lives a blustering parody of soldierly machismo, literally wrestling each other as their pregnant wives sit in the background. But they’re under investigation for a raid gone wrong; in danger of suspension, they pin it on a terminally ill colleague.
The film’s verbally driven second chapter introduces us to a second dedicated group, whose philosophical leader is Shira, the self-appointed poet of a new revolution. Her ideology rooted in the disgust at economic oppression, but her group’s purity is less than it seems, and threatened by sexual tensions.
The revolutionaries represent a side of Israel foreign not only to Yaron, but to the paradigm of national cinema Lapid is confronting—one where Jew is rarely pitted against Jew. Words move into action, and a tense standoff brings the groups together in an inevitable, abrupt conclusion.
Lapid’s hot-button point is that the divisions cleaving Israeli society lie deeper than the Palestinian issue—to class, gender and generation—and that reflection, not blind action, is crucial for reconciliation.Mark Peranson