An army platoon awaits instructions while scrambling to avoid random attacks from enemy soldiers. The grunts are the usual motley crew: the gung ho guy itching to kick ass, the private with a girl back in New Jersey, the requisite sensitive souls bruised from battle. (Any guess as to who’ll be the sacrificial lambs?) They’re all suffering from frayed nerves over the constant shelling and stir-craziness. Given how closely Joseph Cedar’s tale of men under fire sticks to its genre template, you might mistake it for a typical Hollywood WWII flick. Except these dogfaces aren’t in Normandy fighting Nazis, but in Lebanon, guarding the highly symbolic Beaufort Castle from Hezbollah forces in the last remaining days of Israel’s occupation.
Borrowing the vocabulary of vintage war movies, Beaufort initially seems like a revisionist take on the country’s retreat. Then Cedar—a veteran of the ’82 invasion—starts questioning why Israel’s sons are treated like cannon fodder, and the film finally finds its voice. Frustration over the futility of their presence in the region (and with those who kept them there) replaces fervor. By the film’s climax, even the resident hard-ass is weary of the endless cycle, and the movie’s generic military salute has turned into a shaking fist.
Cast and crew