Cops meet kids in the new Israel
Young Israeli director Nadav Lapid’s Policeman/Ha-shoter (in Hebrew, with English subtitles) is a first feature that boldly takes on two timely and controversial subjects in Israel: police brutality and social unrest. After two segments devoted separately to these elements, the film brings them together in a violent confrontation in which anti-terrorist special police sent in to stop the kidnapping of billionaires at a wedding party emerge as essentially terrorists themselves. Explosive material, and an exciting finale. Lapid knows how to bring scenes to life. But he still needs to improve in the writing and editing departments because the three segments do not interrelate smoothly and tellingly. In fact they barely go together at all.
The character we meet first and get closest to is Yaron (Yiftach Klein), the most macho of a macho unit of elite antiterrorist Israeli police. We see him at length exercising, then massaging his pregnant wife, then hanging out with his team. Their targets are usually Palestinians and there’s some sort of legal case in which they’re being held liable for collateral killings of Arab family members. One of the team members appears to have cancer, and Yaron asks him to take the rap, on the assumption that his treatments will exempt him from going on trial. Is it possible there’s the further assumption he may die and therefore is expendable?