Karov la bayit (Close to Home)
Dalia Hager, Vidi Bilu :: Israel :: 2006 :: 1h30
Two girls, Smadar and Mirit, are doing their compulsory military service in Jerusalem. One of them is a rebellious, assertive character, the other a beautiful and enticing introvert. They are sent on patrol together through the streets, taking down ID details of Arabs, a menial and unappealing task. Hesitantly they comply with their mission, trying to balance the demands of the service with their personal lives.
A convincing and captivating portrait of contemporary Israeli society, showing the uncomfortable role of the military in daily life. The soldiers are so young that they can barely deal with the reality around them. It is not as much their fragility -as women- which weakens them, but rather their inexperience. A desperation sets in with the realisation that the society needs them but that they are not really the ones who can do it. The general public is mostly placid about the harassing they’re ordered to do, but towards the end the strain snaps.
The huge differences in character and social background separate the two girls, with their roles well reflected in their duties. The challenges of friendship and love interact through their tour, adding an understanding to their reactions to the world around them.
Brilliantly set up and filmed up close to make us a part of their compulsory rite of passage. The movie is captivating from beginning to end. Do not hesitate to go and watch them in action. As a side note, the French release title (‘A youth unlike any other’), does not do the film justice. The characters are not that exceptional and their obligatory tour is shared by all Israeli youths, not just them. The title ‘Close to Home’ has a lot more impact by adding the realisation that they grow up living with a permanent bomb treat due to political instability. That it is not just a conflict on TV but one surrounding the place they, like everyone else there, calls home.