Close to Home [2005]

Close to Home, one of the most compelling features to emerge from Israel in recent years, is an army buddy movie--but these buddies happen to be 18-year-old women. The two young female Israelis don’t fit the stereotype of the Sabra soldier, but they do fit the roles of real young women concerned with finding their place in society. It is not only an extremely well-crafted coming-of-age tale about friendship, but a unique window on the Israeli female military experience in tense times. Smadar (Smadar Sayar) and Mirit (Naama Schendar), both attractive despite (or maybe because of) their uniforms, couldn’t be more opposite. Smadar, the quintessential bad girl, is boy-crazy and a recreational shoplifter to boot. Mirit is the goody two-shoes, who spends most of her time focusing on being the perfect soldier so she can be transferred and not posted "close to home." The girls are assigned to patrol the streets of Jerusalem together and to check the I.D. of every Palestinian who crosses their path. Mirit is zealous in her efforts, but Smadar would rather slack off and get her hair done. Their approach to the task at hand pits them against each other until a bomb in their sector brings them closer together. Vidi Bilu and Dalia Hager’s new feature subtly addresses the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and simultaneously transcends politics with the strength of its storytelling and the universality of its characters. The directors, addressing the absence of films about women in the military, state: "We have both decided that it was high time their story, ours, had to be told. As women who live in Israel, we nourish the military myth like every other citizen of the country. We live alongside the fighting male figures; we fulfill the roles of their mothers, wives, girlfriends and military comrades; we support them and are supposed to become like them. Renouncing this pattern is perceived as betrayal. However, as we do not actually operate from within the myth but rather alongside it, we can question the relevancy of the military service to our own lives."
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