Close To Home (Karov la Bayit)
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
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
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)
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Posted: February 16, 2007.