The Deserter: caustic and surprising (review)

The Deserter: caustic and surprising (review)

The story of an Israeli deserter treated in a manner that is both distressing and burlesque, Dani Rosenberg's second film reveals a very contemporary acuity.

Filmed several months before the deadly attacks of October 7, 2023, the second feature film by Dani Rosenberg (already director of The Death of cinema and of my father too) nevertheless powerfully echoes the current situation in Israeli society. With this portrait of an eighteen-year-old Israeli soldier who deserts the battlefield to try to join his girlfriend in Tel Aviv, the filmmaker depicts the desire specific to his generation to flee as much as possible from the violence in which has long submerged the country. And the film takes on a higher layer of complexity when the young deserter discovers that the Israeli army, convinced that he has been kidnapped, is searching for him.

Wandering in Tel Aviv, a city whose seemingly hedonistic and touristy atmosphere is in reality devoured by anxiety, the young hero tries to make his pacifist ideals triumph but comes up against a crowd of characters who do not seem to understand him. Dani Rosenberg adopts a tragi-comic style for this and succeeds in several burlesque sequences where the protagonist, played brilliantly by Ido Tako, appears like a puppet straight out of silent cinema. Convinced that love and romance still exist, while everything around him is brutality and paranoia, the young man will fall from a height and realize that his dreams of peace are an illusion.

Striking and surprising, this Deserter thus manages to provide images of the warlike evils that are ravaging the planet today.

By Dani Rosenberg With Ido Tako, Mika Reiss, Efrat Ben-Zur… Duration 1h38. Released April 24, 2024

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