Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
Like classic military comedies from “Catch-22” to “M*A*S*H,” Talya Lavie’s “Zero Motivation” offers its own appealing blend of irreverence and absurdism. But what makes the film so original is not that distinction, or the greater one that the soldiers observed here are female and Israeli. The film’s real difference, rather, lies in a kind of cinematic intelligence that unveils itself very gradually and subtly.
This reviewer, for example, thought he had the film sized up roughly a third of the way through. Another third later, he realized his earlier approximate certainty had come far too soon. And by the end, he was impressed in a way that he hadn’t imagined he would be even a few minutes before.
These shifting perspectives are worth noting as a way of describing how “Zero Motivation,” unlike most films currently, doesn’t try to create a single impression early on that will simply be extended and amplified as the narrative continues. Rather, it deepens and changes it goes along, ending up far richer and more resonant than many viewers will expect initially.
This, in part, emerges from the narrative being structured as three consecutive stories about the same set of characters: soldiers who work in boring low-level jobs as paper-pushers at a military base in southern Israel. The first tale centers on the fraught friendship of two of these women. As it opens, they are returning to the base and nervy, sharp-edged Zohar (Dana Ivgy) is doing what she can to help and placate petulant, recessive Daffi (Nelly Tagar), everything from saving her a seat on the bus to carrying her pack when they have to leave their ride and walk.