Zero Motivation movie review

Featuring: Dana Ivgy, Nelly Tagar, Shani Klein
Screenwriter/Director: Talya Lavie

2014-15 Lotterywest Perth Film Festival season dates:
Joondalup Pines: 9-14 Dec, 8pm

Reviewer: rolanstein
Verdict: Well-acted, well-crafted, irreverent and fun, the humour tempered by quietly subversive undertones that never detract from the film’s sheer entertainment value.

Seinfeld’s “comedy about nothing” catch-line might well be applied to this languidly paced satirical piece on the penpusher side of army life from the perspective of female Israeli soldiers counting down time on their compulsory military service in a remote outpost. The closest they get to military action is in their daily competing to set records in a computer game entitled “Minesweeper”, their only acts of hostility towards each other – and then, mostly in the form of boredom-inspired paying out.

Occasionally, aspiring military careerist Commanding Officer Rama (Shani Klein) induces some office work out of them through threat of punishment, but it’s a battle, since her subordinates are blatantly (and amusingly) disrespectful of her authority – and, indeed, the army that has removed them from civilian life.

While the set-up rings obvious bells (M*A*S*H, Hogan’s Heroes, Stripes), this is different in presenting the points of view of female characters, via a female writer/director (Talya Lavie), on the trials and tedium of Israeli army life in a bureaucracy far removed from sites of military action. There are multiple reminders issued to the girls by CO Rama that Israel is at war, but the only shot fired in anger is by one of the women warning off a sexually aggressive Israeli male soldier about to have his way with out-of-her-depth virgin Zohar (Dana Ivgy).

In its slow pacing, the film captures the sense of grind that characterises the women’s mandatory sentence in the army, but it remains entertaining throughout (it’s not all comedy though – there is a tragic occurrence that continues to resonate thereafter). The mostly lightweight nature of the material belies a sly chipping away at the sanctity of the Israeli military – rarely the target of satire among Israeli filmmakers. Forget patriotism. For these girls, their stint in service is a pain in the arse, resentfully endured, and here’s betting that behind the scenes is some real raised-middle-finger anger and anti-military attitude on the part of the cast and director.

Well-acted, well-crafted, irreverent and fun, the humour tempered by quiet but distinctly subversive undertones that never detract from the film’s sheer entertainment value, this is refreshing stuff that is unlikely to surface in Perth cinemas after the Festival. See it while you can.

For other Boomtown Rap movie reviews, see Movie Review Archives

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