- Product Rating -

Art House Asshole : Zero Motivation

| November 18, 2016

You know how when you’re wanting to go to the movie theater and you look up all the films that are showing and there are alway at least three that you’ve never heard of, let alone have any interest in seeing? Well, good news! I’ve seen those movies. I spend most of my theater experiences in art house theaters watching those movies that you’ve never heard of and then never watch. Yeah, I’m that hipster asshole. My goal with this is to spread information out about these films, that way you can decide one of the following. “That actually sounds pretty cool! I want to see that now!” or “Man, I’m glad I decided to go see the new superhero movie!”. So without further ado, here is my article and review of Zero Motivation.

I feel like there is a time for everyone where nothing seems to make sense. Not like a time in your life. But like “Thursday” for example. That time for me is the middle week of November. It not right after Halloween and me still living in that spooky land. It isn’t the end of November and my birthday. It’s smack dab in the middle of the month that most people don’t give a crap about. It is also the week where I can’t seem to get anything done. I just want to sleep. So that’s why I chose this film for this week’s Art House Asshole. Because I have Zero Motivation for this article. And yes this first paragraph is just one big stupid pun.

Zero Motivation is an Israeli workplace/military comedy. This is the first Israeli film that I have done as part of this series and boy could I have not chosen a more Israeli film for the first. Zero Motivation follows a group of girls serving their mandatory service with the IDF. Before you do anything with this film, you need to realize that this film is based on a solely Israeli conflict. In America and most of the rest of the world, we don’t have a mandatory service that we have to serve. So unless you are Israeli, you probably won’t have the greatest time with this film. This film is very good, however, despite not being as relatable as you might imagine.

Like I said in my Toni Erdmann review, foreign comedy is a very difficult type of film to review. A lot of comedy comes down to timing, something that is lost if you are reading subtitles. The being said this film is funny. The best way I can describe the film is that it feels like Orange is the New Black meets Office Space. The Orange is the New Black might just be my sexist mind seeing that all of the main characters are women, but whatever you get what I mean. It’s about a bunch of girls in a workplace environment that none of them want to be in. It has a very Kafka-esque feel to it, something that a line in the film makes me believe was very much on purpose. The comedy is witty and smart. And where there are some jokes that don’t land as much, the second act gag is somewhat or a chore to get through, it is a very well written comedy.

The acting in the film is great for a bunch of fairly undiscovered or “new” talent. Everyone did their job well and I didn’t think anyone did a bad job. The only issue from the acting standpoint is that one of the main characters (I’m not sure if she is supposed to be the main character or one of the main characters) is just unlikable in my mind. I understand that her circumstance makes her bitter toward the world and not give a crap in general, but at the end of the day I was just annoyed and was displeased when she did some of the things she did. I wanted to shout to her “Please care about this for once!” throughout the film. And some of the characters do this, they mention that while she is messing around others are dying. The film, where it is silly, does do everything with a grain of salt. It doesn’t let you forget that while the situation that the characters are living is goofy and funny, there is the overall conflict and literal war that is present the whole time. It is done so in a way that I haven’t seen done in a comedy before. And I give the film a lot of props for that.

My biggest and at this time only issue with the film is the second act. There is a point in the film where one of the main characters leaves for one reason (I won’t say why because it is one of the best gags in the film). But when she leaves, the second act is completely void of that character. And the film grinds to the pace of a snail. There is one gag that is a little too goofy for the film and is out of character. I usually write these reviews on Monday and check them throughout the week before they go up on Friday. I’m writing this Thursday night before it goes up tomorrow because this second act was so hard to get through that I almost didn’t finish the film. Which is a shame because the third act is so good that it makes up for the strange and pointless second act. I understand why the second act exists. It needed to show a sense of time passing for the third act to work and make sense. But it really brings the film down. A lot.

Overall this is one of the better foreign language comedies I’ve seen in a long time, probably since Toni Erdmann. I’ve been meaning to watch more Middle East films. If you aren’t aware, the Middle East is currently going through their own huge film movement, rivaling the French New Wave and far bigger than the Czech Yellow Wave. And if you want to start exploring that movement, this is a great place to start for Israeli cinema. So check it out if you can, because I don’t think you’ll regret it.

About the Author:

Henry Jarvis is the youngest member of the Reel Nerds. His favorite films include Space Jam and Dude, Where’s My Car? and Lawrence of Arabia. He enjoys those pretentious art house films that Ryan hates. He sees a lot of movies! Honestly more than he should. He replaces his lack of social skills and meaningful friendships with his love of cinema! He’s also crying while he writes this biography for himself. His favorite directors are Andrei Tarkovsky, David Fincher, and David Lean.
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