Focusing on a pair of friends working in the secretary pool of some remote desert base, the film is broken up into three distinct stories set in and around their office’s politics and personnel.
Zohar and Daffi are the film’s core relationship, but many of the other faces in the office play pivotal roles. Rama, their CO, provides the straight man of the film, but also grounds the picture while Zohar and Daffi can get quite silly. That juxtaposition against the perceived honor of the Israeli Army is striking and you have to imagine that the director, Talya Lavie, was trying to undercut the perceived nature of that institution. Lavie doesn’t directly criticize the military, but is trying to show that things maybe don’t need to be taken so seriously all the time. That element of levity allows Lavie to really not hold back with her story and she throws a lot of curveballs at the viewer that you wouldn’t expect from a film set on a military base.
Broken up into three different chapters, the first introduces us to the base and world of Zohar and Daffi while also beginning to plant the seeds for the final chapter. More focused on Daffi as she gets ready to embrace her transfer to Tel Aviv, chapter 1 turns you on its head with its excellent use of its audience proxy character. Lavie does such an impressive job of building out her world so efficiently, it’s hard to believe this is her first feature. There is an economy to Lavie’s storytelling that makes you feel like you know everyone in the office.
Part two sees the friendship broken apart and Zohar wrestling with some sexual suppression that she might be overdue for. This segment is an ensemble piece more than any of the three and really lets some of the other cast members shine. Zohar’s descent is also an impressive feat to watch thanks to Dana Ivgy’s turn in the role. The character is a punk, but one you can kind of get behind, even if you disapprove. A big reason why is because of Ivgy.
Daffi comes back into the fold for the third chapter that plays wonderfully off everything that came before it. The tension between friends is palpable and Nelly Tagar does a fantastic job evolving Daffi from where we last left her. Everything comes together so nicely in the third act, instead of that usual falling apart, and you again have to credit Lavie for assembling such a finely structured film.
Zero Motivation is a nice little comedy that is a great look into female friendship. The jealousy, the changes and the growing up that goes on over a friendship can be taxing, but Lavie’s film is sure to remind us that you were still friends at some point and that love is still in there somewhere.