An unusual “buddy movie” focusing on two young women conscripted into the Israeli army, where they spend their time either checking bags for bombs or asking anyone suspicious – Arabs, let’s be honest – for their ID. Shot on handheld cameras on the streets of Jerusalem, Close to Home is in most other respects firmly within the tradition of the buddy movie. In other words the girls don’t initially get on – fiery Smadar (Smadar Sayar) would rather get her hair done and ogle boys than bother decent people who are just trying to get to work. The quieter Mirit (Neama Shendar) on the other hand is a stickler for protocol. Vardit Bilu and Dalia Hagar’s very documentary-esque drama never drops into easy Butch and Sundance/Thelma and Louise cliché, and seems more intent on putting a human (ie Jewish) face to the situation over there, presenting the Israeli defence forces as normal folks – hey they’re just girls – who want to shop, flirt, and break the rules like everybody else, but who carry an extra burden most 18-year-olds wouldn’t understand. Propaganda, then?
© Steve Morrissey 2007