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Close to Home (Unrated)





Release Date: February 16th, 2007 (IFC Center and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas) by IFC First Take.
The Cast: Smadar Sayar, Naama Schendar, Danny Geva, Sharon Reginiano, Sandra Schonwald, Irit Suki, Ami Weinberg, Katia Zinbris.
Directed by Vidi Bilu and Dalia Hager.
In Hebrew with subtitles.

BASIC PREMISE: Mirit (Schendar) and Smadar (Sayar) gradually become friends while serving as border patrol in the Israeli military.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Close to Home follows the experiences of Mirit and Smadar, two teenage girls in the Israeli military who work together as border patrol. Both donít enjoy obeying the orders of their commander, Dubek (Suki), who gives them orders to stop and take down the information of every Arab man or woman crossing their paths, whether on buses or sidewalks. What makes this timely plot compelling is not only the tensions between the soldiers and their commander or the threat of suicide attacks, but also the interesting relationship between Mirit and Smadar who have opposite personalities. Mirit seems more timid and shy while Smadar is more outgoing and unafraid to speak her mind. In a subplot, Mirit has a crush on an older man who rescued her during a suicide bombing and she doesnít even have the confidence to approach him. Naama Schendar, Smadar Sayar, and Irit Suka all give very strong performances which makes their characters both believable and engaging. Fortunately, co-writers/directors Vidi Bilu and Dalia Hager breathe life into the script with organic dialogue, brief comic relief, complex characters and they, wisely, donít allow for any melodrama which helps to keep you thoroughly absorbed. SPIRITUAL VALUE: Itís quite moving how Mirit and Smadar gradually become friends despite their differences. Throughout their experiences together in the Israeli military, Mirit learns how to be more confident, Smadar becomes more kind and, above all, they both learn the true meaning and value of friendship.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None.

NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 0

IN A NUTSHELL: Timely, absorbing and unforgettable. A terrific Israeli film.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater


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