A promising feature debut for Israeli writer-director Talya Lavie, Zero Motivation chronicles boredom, hijinks, infatuations, disappointments, and imperfect but enduring friendship between two women soldiers stationed at a remote, desert army base.
Zohar (Dana Ivgy) is hard-edged, smart, completely unmotivated by everything in the office except computer games, and beneath her crusty exterior, a bit vulnerable. Her best friend Daffi (Nelly Tagar) seems as hapless and helpless as she is unhappy, but there is just a bit more to her than meets the eye.
It’s rare to see two such flawed but authentically drawn characters set amid an equally original and complicated set of supporting players and, furthermore, to have them surprise us, make us laugh, and perhaps even elicit a tear or two. Neither of the best friends seems cut out for the Israeli army, but the same can be said for most of their office cohort.
Lavie breaks the film into three interlocking stories, and the structure is effective here in delineating major narrative arcs while also allowing room for overlaps. Sometimes this technique can fracture the narrative, but Zero Motivation coheres as a film and is surprisingly entertaining.