You probably know, somewhere in the back of your brain, that Israel has mandatory military service. When you turn 18, you get drafted into the army. Men serve 3 years, women usually about half that. But have you ever thought about what exactly that entails? Picture, for a moment, the flightiest girls in your high school. Now put them in uniform. In bootcamp. In a latrine.
Zero Motivation does just that: it puts us into a remote outpost in the Israeli desert and gives us female soldiers for company. Some of them have been given jobs in name only (Daffi is a “Paper and Shredding NCO” who spends most of her time beating the high score in Minesweeper) and most are counting down the days until they return to civilian life. Their officer, Rama, however, is trying to make this her career…
There’s something of the dorm life at play, the cafeteria, the shared accommodations, the communal showers, the flirting. Only with guns and uniforms. Director Talya Lavie makes the most of the slightly absurd circumstance and the comedy is irreverent, and often quite dark.
Zero Motivation is tonally inconsistent, often catching you off guard. You’re meant to feel a little unsteady, building on a commentary that’s sharp and almost post-feminist in its regard. There are plenty of movies that have something to say about the inanity of military life, but this one offers a shockingly fresh perspective