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Israel 2014
Directed by
Talya Lavie
101 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Zero Motivation

Synopsis:  The story of best friends Zohar (Dana Ivgy) and Daffi (Nelly Tagar), young female conscripts on a remote Israeli military outpost.

In many ways Talya Lavie's Zero Motivation is reminiscent of army comedies like M.A.S.H. and Catch-22 – it just happens to be set amongst  female Israeli army conscripts. The same sense of absurdity is there as the girls go about their seemingly meaningless tasks under the watchful eye of their over-zealous commander. In this respect the film is often very amusing.  But there is also a poignantly serious side to it and it is this which ultimately dominates and makes the film worthwhile,

The film is structured as three overlapping stories about the same set of characters, female soldiers who work in administration on a dust-blown military base in southern Israel. The first episode introduces us to the central characters of Zohar and Daffi, the latter who is trying desperately to get  transferred to Tel Aviv. The girls are essentially slackers who pass time playing video games and dissing their skanky work colleagues, while their slightly desperate commanding officer (Shani Klein) tries to impress her superiors with office efficiency and is constantly thwarted by the restive young women.  Then one day a new female soldier turns up whom Daffi thinks is the replacement who will enable her departure for Tel Aviv. That is, until a tragic incident proves otherwise. Life goes on, however, and for Zohar this means losing her virginity, something which isn’t as easy as one might think on an Army base, and for Daffi, getting transferred.

Zero Motivation has all the hallmarks of first-hand observation and one presumes it is based in debut writer-director Talya Lavie's own experiences. There is a sense of lived reality in the depiction of the girl’s daily outpost routine, their alienation and gradually fraying relationships but it is also heightened by a wry sense of the ridiculous and a canny ability for drawing life-like characters.

Talya Lavie's admirably low-key and engagingly acted film is a comedy, yet one that knows that life is not always so funny.




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