Ha-shoter (Policeman) Reviews
Yaron(Yiftach Klein) is the leader of an elite police unit who is also soon to be a father. As such, he looks after his wife Nili's(Meital Barda) every need, even carrying her very pregnant person up several flights of stairs. He is also lecherous enough to hit on a waitress who it turns out is only 15. Ariel(Gal Hoyberger), one of his comrades, has a tumor and the other men in the unit pity him before shifting the blame on a massacre onto him, albeit with his approval.
By contrast, the terrorists do make some valid points. However, Shira(Yaara Pelzig), their spokesperson, is about the only stereotype in a movie full of three dimensional characters, as she seems to be a spoiled young otherwise undecided rich woman who is simply involved in the movement as a way of rebelling against her parents. But Pelzig's fierce performance makes up for some of that.
With an intriguing structure that stays exclusively with each group for an act, I am still a little befuddled by the movie's final shot, like I missed something I should have been paying attention to earlier.
The interaction between the policemen is in ways endearing, but it's also revealed to have sinister dimensions. They have recently screwed up. An operation cost the lives of two civilians. The blame is decided to put on a member of the team undergoing cancer treatments; they can't blame a dying hero, the gang rationalizes.
Before the midpoint of the film Lapid changes the scene. We are thrown into a story about extreme left-wing radicals, a group of young Israeli from privileged families who hate their upbringing and are ready to take up arms. Their goals are unfocused but their anger is potent. Israel is one of the most unequal countries in the modern world and the group is determined to change this by destroying what is there. "It's time for the poor to get rich and the rich to start dying" they write in a pompous statement meant to be read during an attack.
In the end the stories of the policemen and the terrorists become one. Expectedly but powerfully.
It would be relatively easy to see "Ha-shoter" as a tale of heroic policemen who in their unified loyalty confront a gang of terrorists utilizing ridiculous reasoning and methodology. But no. The terrorists are too deeply explored as characters, their psychology and weakness exposed. Also, too many analogies are drawn between the two gangs. They both validate their group loyalty through violence, be that sanctified by the state or not. The policemen want to kill as many Arabs as they can, the terrorists want to kill as many rich people as they can. The policemen are firm supporters of conservative family values but they cheat on their pregnant wives and harass young women. The terrorists are preaching in their statements about the way liberal values and sexual freedom have destroyed the moral fiber of Israeli society, but they secretly hunt for one night stands in night clubs. The interaction of the policemen, venturing beyond the homosocial into the homoerotic, is mirrored in the interaction between the male members of the terrorist group. And every character on both sides seems to have a gun fetish on top of their general fetish for violence.
"Ha-shoter" doesn't treat us with easy answers and helpfully clear moral setups. It refrains from taking noble stands and concentrates on the nature of violence, how it tempts and seduces, how ideology and a sense of duty are mere servants to a primal urge to tear things down.