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"Zero Motivation": War Is Hell, but in a Tedious Way 

Tuesday, Dec 9 2014
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Being in the military includes the risk of getting killed by bombs or bullets. But there's also the possibility of dying a metaphorical death from the boredom and drudgery of administrative work, which is the war waged in Talya Lavie's swell female army comedy. Among the conscripts carrying out their mandatory military service as secretaries in an isolated Israeli military base are Zohar (Dana Ivgy), whose main ambition is to lose her virginity; her best friend Daffi (Nelly Tagar), who desperately wants to get transferred to what she fantasizes will be a posh assignment in metropolitan Tel Aviv; Rama (Shani Klein), their long-suffering superior; and Irena (the excellently named Tamara Klingon), a Russian girl who may or may not require an exorcism. With an episodic structure that favorably recalls Robert Altman's M*A*S*H — now and forever the gold standard of military comedies — Zero gets surprisingly dark less than 30 minutes in, with a shocking event that most films would use as a climax. Here, it functions as a motivating factor for the rest of the movie, which remains consistently funny. And though they never actually go into combat, the bonding (and occasional unbonding) of the female characters is still more emotionally honest and satisfying than anything in the pandering, bro-heavy Lone Survivor.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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