Lebanon, Samuel Maoz, 93 mins (15)

Starring: Oshri Cohen, Zohar Strauss, Yoav Donat
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The Independent Culture

Samuel Maoz's debut feature is a raw and horrifying memoir of war on a par with Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker, in that it examines in close-up the physical and psychological torments of young men in mortal danger.

The film thrusts us into the first day of the first Lebanon war, June 1982, as 19-year-old gunner Shmuel (Yoav Donat) joins his equally inexperienced crew in a tank. Once inside this cramped, stinking death-trap, the film stays there, monitoring the tense faces of the four Israelis and viewing the disasters of war exclusively through the cross hairs of Shmuel's gunsight. Thus the surreal sight of an elderly Arab sitting at a cafe table with a companion slumped dead next to him; or of a half-naked mother shrieking hysterically amid what remains of her family. Maoz, a conscript of that war, knows of what he speaks, but even more impressive than the screenplay is his technique as a film-maker – the sound design is superb, and the complicity of viewpoint through the swivelling gunsight is a brilliant coup de cinema. It would make a fine double-bill of conflict-as-claustrophobia with Das Boot.

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