CLOSE TO HOME (KAROV LA BAYIT) (2007)
Starring Smadar Sayar, Naama Schendar, Danny Geva, Sharon Reginiano, Sandra Schonwald, Irit Suki, Ami Weinberg, Katia Zinbris, Anna Stephan and Ilanit Ben Yaakov.
Screenplay by Vidi Bilu and Dalia Hager.
Directed by Vidi Bilu and Dalia Hager.
Distributed by IFC First Take. 94 minutes. Not Rated.
The day-to-day realities in the Middle East are horrifying. However, because of that all-encompassing instability, we sometimes forget that these are just people, living their lives with little, nagging problems that have nothing to do with the volatile politics of the region.
In the new war, we’ve been hearing all the stories of female soldiers from the US. However, in Israel, it has always been required for all young women to spend two years in the military (men do a stretch of three years.) This is not a story that is often told outside of Israel, so it is rather fascinating to see the inner workings of this draft.
Written and directed by Vidi Bilu and Dalia Hager, two Israeli filmmakers who experienced the service, Close To Home is a warts and all look at the experience. It shows why it is necessary and at the same time why it is a totally frustrating and somewhat humiliating job.
Close To Home looks at these women and how they live through their service (the English title refers to female soldiers who are stationed locally so that they can live at their own homes.) Essentially these women are given the job of staying on the street and stopping passing Palestinians to be sure they have the proper documentation. They also have to search Palestinian women who are crossing the border.
Mirit (Naama Schendar) is a quiet, shy, by-the-book teen who lives with her parents and takes her role in the Army very seriously. She is teamed with Smadar (Smadar Sayar), a rebellious, sexy, hard-living single girl who hates having to show up for this detail.
Of course these are just young girls, they don’t care about the politics of the situation. They are much more interested in guys and fashions. It all seems a big chore to them.
At first they hate each other – Smadar sees Mirit as a goody-goody and Mirit feels that Smadar is just getting her into trouble. However, when they survive a suicide bombing attempt, they form a bond and both start moving into the other’s direction.
Close To Home is not quite as disturbing nor as enlightening as Paradise Now, last year’s look at the same problem told from the other side of the political spectrum – the Palestinian side. However it is an engrossing film that does take a good look behind the curtains of the conflict and reminds us that no matter what, good people are being made to do bad things. (2/07)
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 16, 2007.