Zero Motivation

Talya Lavie
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The frustration, desolation, and degradation that are part and parcel of women’s military service in the IDF all provide fertile ground for Talya Lavie’s subversive 2014 comedy about a group of female soldiers at a military base down south (in the Arabah region) who are slowly going mad. Gone is the helpless, submissive acceptance of the IDF’s oppressive hierarchy, now replaced by a viscerally conscious, scathingly biting statement.

Like all things in the IDF, the film is divided into three parts focusing on the stories of three adjutant officers; each of whom portrays a different facet of [military day-to-day] despair: Daphy (Nelly Tagar), whose main responsibility is shredding papers (an illustration of the women’s dreary, mundane reality) dreams of escaping the desert and getting transferred to a major base in Tel Aviv; Zohar (Dana Ivgy), the base postmistress can only bury her head in her military winter parka and wait for this ordeal to be over; then there’s Rama (Shani Klein) – an officer and the only woman who actually gets to sit in on senior command meetings where soldiers’ field operations are discussed and decided, Rama longs for a promotion but cannot seem to get her own house (and soldiers) in order. Reluctantly, she finds herself making coffee to all the surrounding male officers, thereby capitulating (however unwittingly) to the military’s gender hierarchy.

“One day, you’ll wake up and realise that you’d spent two years in the army and contributed fuck all; you haven’t left your mark,” the officer lectures Zohar whose sloth is her form of rebellion. However, the film makes it painstakingly clear that the options available to her are indeed few and far between (as illustrated by the symbolic nail gun duel scene.)

In the film, Lavie explores a range of pertinent, heavyweight issues such as sexual harassment and sisterhood in a military sphere which she tackles in a way that is every bit as entertaining as it is poignant and hard-hitting. When a cute combat soldier who turns out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing tries to rape Zohar, the person who comes to her rescue is her fellow soldier Irena (Tamara Klingon), who gives him a detailed crash course on male-female relations whilst holding him at submachinegun-point. This time, the joke’s on him.

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