A zany, dark, & comedic portrait of everyday life for a unit of young, female Israeli soldiers. The Human Resources Office at a remote desert base serves as the setting for this cast of characters who bide their time pushing paper and battling in computer games, counting down the minutes until they can return to civilian life. Amidst their boredom and clashing personalities, issues of commitment - to friendship, love, and country - are handled with humor and sharp-edged wit.Written by
The first segment of the film is based off of director Talya Lavie's short film The Substitute (2006). That film also starred Dana Ivgy however while she played a character named Zohara the character in the short was closer to the character of Daffi in Zero Motivation, playing a soldier who dreamed of going to Tel Aviv while training her replacement. See more »
When Meir is about to have sex with Zohar, he places his rifle on the ground near him. However, it appears in the hands of Irena in spite she wasn't there to grab it. See more »
Zero Motivation follows in the tradition of Catch-22 (1970) and M*A*S*H (1970) by exploring the understated banalities, vulgarities and absurdities of military life. Much like those films, we follow a congress of loosely connected characters, none of which approach their jobs with any kind of pride or relish. Instead they see their predicament as some sort of purgatory by which a better life lies just beyond their reach. Slight difference in this case, is the majority of the films denizens are Israeli women and not American men.
The story is divided into three vignettes largely following the quiet and diminutive Zohar (Ivgy) and the rebellious Daffi (Tagar). The first story involves the duo returning from furlough. On their way back to base they meet Tehila (Tobi) who Zohar mistakes for a replacement thus making her dream of transferring to reality. Tehila however is not what she seems. The second story involves Daffi's fruitless quest to loose her virginity which has disastrous consequences on her unit, including and especially Rama (Klein) her superior officer. The last story sees the unintended results of Zohar's constant schemes to leave her isolated base for a cushy position in Tel Aviv.
The rest of the ensemble includes Russian transplant Irena (Klingon) and twitty songbirds Livnat (Twito) and Liat (Gal), who fill out the rest of the unit like glitches in a computer program.Though if one were to point to a standout performance it would be Shani Klein as Rama. Between the privates and the male high commanders, Rama approaches everything with exaggerated incredulity and frustrated exhaustion. Anyone who has had to supervise a gaggle of uncaring, unmotivated underlings while being pressed by micromanaging overseers will automatically sympathize with her plight. Especially when faced with the one-woman agent of chaos that is Nelly Tagar's Daffi.
Each vignette ends in much the same way; ironically and with a darkly humorous twist where no one is a modicum happier. Even those who have never experienced Army life (or been a woman) will find a lot to love about Zero Motivation. The girls are fighting the same kind of dull lethargy many of us contend with on a daily basis. When the plot isn't grinding hopes and dreams into a fine powder, the girls occupy their time with various distractions, the most coveted of which is Daffi's Minesweeper game. It's sad, bordering on pathetic yet when something as inconsequential as a computer game is the only trinket tethering your sanity, you'd want to hold on to it too.
Darker than Stripes (1981), funnier than Catch-22 and way more concise than M*A*S*H, Zero Motivation is a fierce, fun little satire made all the more relevant coming from a country that has only known war since its inception. While it does pull its punches in the last act, leaving us with an ending that is uncharacteristically hopeful, everything leading up to it is pure gold. Check out this Israeli import if for no other reason than you'll never look at a staple gun the same way again.
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