As I am of Generation Y and love to multitask, I often put off watching foreign-language films because it's much more challenging to do other things while reading subtitles. As a consequence, I held onto my Netflix copy of the Oscar-nominated Beaufort for two months before finally watching it this weekend. Usually, when I wait this long the movie ends up being quite good, begging the question, "Why did you watch so many crappy movies before watching this one?" Unfortunately, this time around, Beaufort did not evoke such a question.
Beaufort was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at last year's Academy Awards, though for what I'm not quite sure. About a group of Israeli soldiers stationed in Lebanon at the end of the occupation, the movie is about dying without cause or even an enemy to fight. As random missiles fall from the unseen Hezbollah, outpost commander Liraz Liberti watches as one by one his men die defending a fort that holds no strategic value to either side. Awaiting imminent pull out, Liraz and his men face psychological deterioration.
The move isn't inherently bad, as the acting and storytelling are quite good. Oshri Cohen does a good job in the lead, the rest of the cast - it really is an ensemble cast - stands up well. The look and feel of the picture is interesting enough, and I liked the premise. Unfortunately, Beaufort is just extremely dull. Writer and director Joseph Cedar just misses the mark when it comes to creating a dynamic, emotional film; Beaufort just drags on and on and on.
Sure, maybe that's the point. War for these soldiers might have been boring, even with bombs dropping on them every day, but that doesn't mean that the movie itself has to be boring. While the acting is good, none of the characters are particularly compelling; none of them, including Liraz, were distinguishable in any true sense; the only developed character is one guy who ends up getting killed early on. The problem is that Cedar is never able to get past the surface level of his characters, to allow us to know what they're thinking. The actors try their hardest, but they can only do so much.
Despite being nominated for an Oscar, Beaufort is a surprisingly disappointing and boring war film.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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