DRAMA; 1hr 34min (Hebrew with subtitles)
STARRING: Yoav Donat, Itay Tiran, Oshri Cohen, Michael Moshonov, Zohar Shtrauss
Close quarters: from left, Donat, Tiran, Shtrauss and Cohen
When men who are little more than boys go to war, its frightening imperatives are the flipside of gung-ho militaristic PR. Lebanon writer-director Samuel Maoz is painfully aware of that: his visceral treatment is the distillation of his experiences as a young Israeli soldier in the 1982 Lebanon War. Even in an air-conditioned cinema, the heat, sweat and human stench grab your senses.
Shut inside a stifling tank whose objective is to check out a village decimated by the Israeli Air Force, novice gunner Shmulik (Donat) views the carnage through the mechanical eye of his periscope. The wretchedness comes at him in ugly fragments and Shmulik is a mess from day one. His three companions (Tiran, Cohen and Moshonov) fare little better in the hellish mêlée as strategies go pear-shaped and their fragile resolve crumbles.
For Maoz, the film-making process proved cathartic. After 25 years, he has finally done his damnedest with the personal damage done. And like soldiers everywhere, absolution will also be a long time coming for the traumatised young men trapped by the folly of others.