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A few Palestinian guerilla's break into an Israeli camp in the occupied territories. They kill a few Israeli soldiers before they are killed, apart from one who dies in the camp after being captured alive. The Israeli military despatch an investigator to the camp to see if there was cold blooded murder (people at the camp had claimed he was shot while trying to escape). It turns out that the investigator despatched is a friend of the camp commander - the rest of the plot is basically about the position of both of these characters as regards being honest or faithful to ones friends. There is unbearable tension, increased by the fact that they are both very strongly attracted to one of the female soldiers on the camp. Written by
Devastating examination of friendship under duress
ONE OF US (Ehad Mishelanu)
Aspect ratio: 1.37:1
Sound format: Mono
An unexpected gem from Israeli filmmaker Uri Barbash, whose hard-hitting prison drama BEYOND THE WALLS was released to international acclaim in 1984. ONE OF US is no less engaging: Whilst training together as soldiers in the occupied territories, three inseparable friends (Sharon Alexander, Alon Abutbul and Dan Toren) are tested to the limit when Alexander takes photographs of their hard-ass commander (Shaul Mizrahi) in a compromising situation. Things become ugly when the prank backfires on their fellow squad members, and the three protagonists are forced to take sides against one another, prompting Alexander to request a transfer. Several years later, he returns to the unit in his capacity as a military investigator after Toren is killed by a Palestinian 'terrorist' who appears to have died under interrogation by Abutbul and the men in his command. Once again, Alexander's relationship with Abutbul becomes strained - this time to breaking point - as mounting evidence suggests his beloved friend is hiding a dreadful secret: That he and his buddies tortured a false confession from a potentially innocent man and murdered him in cold blood...
Based on a stage play by screenwriter Benny Barbash (the director's brother), ONE OF US is a study of friendship, loyalty and macho pride in a virtually all-male environment, where devotion to one's comrades is considered more important than moral convictions. Alexander is the catalyst for much of the action, staying true to his principles while everyone around him makes excuses for their own failings, even resorting to violence when Alexander refuses to tow the standard line. However, neither the director or screenwriter has a political axe to grind, and they deliberately sidestep the wider implications of Benny Barbash's volatile screenplay, choosing instead to focus on the situation at hand, and nothing else.
To his credit, director Barbash doesn't shy away from the homo erotic undercurrent which boils quietly beneath the narrative surface: Abutbul's devotion to Alexander manifests itself in lingering kisses and playful terms of endearment ('darling'), but the sexual element is rendered explicit in a scene where Abutbul's nominally heterosexual character makes love to his girlfriend (Dalia Shimko) against a wall-sized projected image of himself, Alexander and Toren, and the camera zooms slowly into their smiling faces as he reaches an off screen climax (Abutbul - a handsome, popular figure in Israeli cinema, who's also played a few minor roles in US movies - was the star of Amos Gutman's BAR 51, one of the few Israeli films at the time to deal openly with gay issues). But while the Barbash brothers use their screenplay to champion the concepts of truth and justice, they refuse to paint their characters in anything less than shades of gray: Abutbul's loyalties bend under pressure, while Alexander's motives for pursuing this divisive case to its bitter end are clouded by the unpleasant manner in which he was forced out of his training unit.
Barbash's straightforward direction is well-suited to the material: He simply points the camera at a talented cast and allows his brother's compelling dialogue to sell the drama. Amnon Salomon's uncluttered camera-work makes a virtue of the sparse Israeli landscape, while Tova Asher's skillful editing maintains a busy tempo. The low-budget production values are ultra-professional throughout.
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