Review: Close to Home

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Smadar Sayar and Neama Shendar in Close to Home
Smadar Sayar and Neama Shendar in Close to Home



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


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Close to Home (2005) Drama | 98min | 6 April 2007 (UK) 6.9
Director: Vardit Bilu, Dalia HagerWriter: Vardit Bilu, Dalia HagerStars: Smadar Sayar, Naama Schendar, Danny GevaSummary: Rebellious and outgoing Smadar can't stand types like Mirit. Mirit, introverted and frightened, keeps away from the likes of Smadar. But the two are thrown together as they are assigned to a patrol in Jerusalem as part of their compulsory military service. Their job is to stop Palestinian passersby, to ask for their identity cards, and to write down their details on special forms. You don't move from this place, don't sit down, don't smoke, don't eat, don't talk on your cell phones, says their commander, leaving them alone on the street with their patrol forms. What will they do now? This is the story of two 18-year-old girls who are busy with their own worlds--falling in love, break-ups, and the volatile relationship between the two--in an attempt to ignore the political reality in a city that slowly makes its way into their lives. As women, this film is our own way of soul searching, about our army service and the occupation Written by Vidi Bilu and Dalia Hager


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