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CLOSE TO HOME

By admin | February 16, 2007

“Close to Home” follows the daily routine of two 18-year-old girls in the Israeli Army. Smart-alecky Smadar (Smadar Sayar) is paired with introverted and awkward Mirit (Naama Schendar) to patrol a section of East Jerusalem. Their duties primarily consist of stopping Arab pedestrians, demanding to see their ID cards, and registering their names on a form. Mirit sees nothing wrong with that assignment, but Smadar recognizes it for the harassment it is.

Needless to say, this odd couple initially have little mutual admiration. Mirit thinks Smadar is lazy and nasty, while Smadar thinks her partner is a moron. However, a bombing in Jerusalem that slightly injures Mirit changes the equation and the girls begin to develop a genuine friendship.

“Close to Home” is typical of many Israeli films: solemn, abrasive, connect-the-dots predictable and fairly dull. The two young leads are terrible actors, which only makes matters worse. The only genuine energy and excitement comes from the richly funny performance by Sharon Reginiano as the hot-tempered commander of the girls’ unit; her inability to cope with the incompetence in her soldiers provides for genuinely amusing moments.

Vidi Bilu and Dalia Hager, two Israeli women, co-directed the film. The “Close to Home” press kit quotes the filmmakers as stating that women rarely get a chance to direct movies in Israel. With “Close to Home,” it appears that Israeli women are capable of making films as badly as Israeli men.

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