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Close to Home

Homeland insecurities

Two teenage girls on military duty in Jerusalem find that friendship, men and going on the lam are just as important as policing the Arab community in Close To Home. This highly accessible film, which mixes humour, tragedy, tenderness and political acumen into a well-observed coming-of-age format, represents a very impressive feature début by writer-directors Vidi Bilu and Dalia Hager.The film partly draws on the experiences of one of the directors, who was assigned to police patrolling duty during her military service. But aside from the script’s mass of small details, the movie’s special quality is that it deals with issues that arise from having young Israelis policing a divided city in a way which puts characters first, and political grandstanding second.Relations between the two girls are initially frosty. Mirit is painfully over-conscientious, while Smadar couldn’t care less about the job. The film gets a lot of enjoyable mileage out of the whole squad’s solidarity (warning each other by cell phone when their commanding officer is coming), as well as their hopelessness at doing the job.At the 40-minute mark, the real world intervenes as a bomb rocks the neighbourhood, with tragic results. But instead of turning into a more politicized drama, the film holds to its course, turning the event into the start of the girls’ long path to real friendship.In its humorous and dramatic ups-and-downs, the film is exceptionally well structured, on a par with its technical side. Even down to supporting roles, there’s hardly a weakly drawn character, and by movie’s end there’s a feeling of having gotten to know everyone involved.Derek Elley, Variety

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Directed by: 
Vidi Bilu and Dalia Hager
Running Time: 
Hebrew with English subtitles
Naama Shendar, Smadar Sayar
Screenplay by: 
Vidi Bilu and Dalia Hager

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