Film

Israeli Kidnapping Drama ‘Youth’ Is a Tense, Class-Minded Thriller

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Through American eyes, Israeli writer-director Tom Shoval’s tense and striking debut — which smoothly flits between familial melodrama, psychological thriller, and socioeconomic allegory — may trigger false foreshadowing of an Elephant-style gun rampage.

Home on furlough in a Tel Aviv satellite town, newly enlisted teen soldier Yaki shares an intuitive bond with his brother Shaul (respectively and hauntingly played by real-life twins David and Eitan Cunio), an assault rifle perpetually slung around his arm. That’s not an unusual sight in Israel, but their mutual love for violent Hollywood action (Shaul works in a movie theater and wears free swag T-shirts emblazoned with John Rambo, Drive Angry, and the like) may have helped inspire their boneheaded idea to kidnap a rich schoolgirl and stash her in the cellar.

Upstairs lies the related story of a suburban family in deep shit, as an overworked mom (Shirili Deshe) and unemployed, self-deluding dad (Moshe Ivgy) choose to ignore the fact that they’re about to lose their home — they’re oblivious to their sons’ bailout scheme.

Elegantly shot to emphasize the suffocating atmosphere of its believably frightening scenario, the film speaks clearly about generational expectations and the disintegration of the middle class, even when the brothers communicate without using words.

Youth

Written and directed by Tom Shoval

The Match Factory

Opens August 21, Film Society of Lincoln Center

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