I was on my way out of ICM’s lush private theater after a screening of Israeli film “Beaufort” when someone asked me if I liked the film.
“It’s a hard film to say you like,” I answered, “but it’s a very well made film.”
Its technical merits are many, but its content—challenging.
Leaving politics at the doorstep, “Beaufort” is an oppressive film to watch. On view are deeply gashed and bleeding limbs, dead bodies and vomiting soldiers. Missile attacks from Hezbollah explode to an ominous score that fills the audience with unease, anxiety and tension.
The film tells the story of the last Israeli outpost stationed in southern Lebanon in 2000. A group of (unlucky) soldiers have the task of guarding a hilltop near Beaufort Castle and endure persistent violence at the hands of Hezbollah. By day, the soldiers debate the efficacy of the Israeli politicians and the IDF; at night, they alternate manning the lookout post, the most vulnerable spot on site and a frequent target.
Filmmaker Joseph Cedar crafted a provocative meditation on war that suggests the soldiers were sitting ducks while the Knesset, stalled by bureaucracy, failed to protect them from Hezbollah. Cedar exposes the breadth of the Israeli political spectrum through the soldiers’ frustrated voices. As the bulwark of Israel’s security, they struggle with polarizing, moral dilemmas. Ultimately the protagonist unit leader must decide: follow orders or preserve human life?
The film is contentiously vying for a foreign language Oscar nomination along with “The Band’s Visit,” and will soon makes its way to a theater near you.