So much of the narrative out of Israel centers on the longstanding conflict that it's easy to forget people live there: regular, ordinary folks just trying to get through the day and find a measure of contentment in their lives.

The comedy "Zero Motivation" has been widely described as "Office Space" meets the Israeli Army. There's validity there, in the ways writer-director Talya Lavie depicts the droning ennui engulfing women soldiers suffering in the administration office of a desert base.

Divided into three chapters and centered on pals Zohar (Dana Ivgy) and Daffi (Nelly Tagar), the picture explores the gender gap in the military as well as the disconnect between the ideals of compulsory service and the realities of days spent delivering coffee and shredding documents.

Lavie emphasizes the details of this place and the ways they fray the mind: there's clutter everywhere, suffocating sand and shots of characters utterly possessed by the glow of minesweeper and other computer games. The soldiers are brutal to one another; insulting, thoughtless and unafraid of menacingly wielding a staple gun. One character dreams of a transfer to Tel Aviv; another conspires to lose her virginity.

Chopin is used ironically, applying jarring romantic overtones to a relationship that certainly doesn't warrant it.

There's no discipline here, no higher sense of purpose or resolve. Only a group of people thrust together in an awkward situation and aimlessly passing time. It's cynical but it translates well. They're Israeli soldiers but they could be you or me. The minutes, hours and days blend together and the movie achieves something profound in the malaise.

 

‘Zero Motivation’

3 stars

Directed by Talya Lavie

Starring Danna Ivgy, Nelly Tagar, Shani Klein

Unrated