astute Middle eastern thriller with a devastating coda
An already tense Israeli family reunion turns into a nightmare when, en route to the grandson's army graduation, the small group becomes lost in a hostile West Bank village under military curfew. The first Israeli feature about the Intifada is a sobering experience, made even more claustrophobic by the tightening knot of circumstances around each character: the grandfather's failing heart; the prodigal son's hair-trigger insecurities; the young grandson's inadequate military training; and the efforts of their wives (and one girlfriend) to cope with the escalating chaos. Director Isaac Zepel Yeshurun draws out their fear and frustration by skillfully choreographing the dialogue to create a mood of impending violence, unrelieved by the occasional flash of anxious, ironic humor. If the Palestinian villagers are, in contrast, little more than anonymous Arabs, it's because the film is more about Jews confronting the nameless enemy within themselves; and if dramatic fiction seems an inadequate format for such a complex issue, watch how in the end the film moves from artifice to reality in one subtle yet startling leap of imagination.
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