Every once in a while a film comes along that, no matter how hard one tries, absolutely defies summarization. In fact, this reviewer isn’t sure of the genre that would best describe the film to its potential audience. Is it a drama? It certainly has a dramatic theme and several dramatic scenes. Is it science fiction? After one particular scene, whereby the audience is asked to completely suspend their reason, it certainly could be described as a science fiction film. Or is it something altogether different? The film’s creators, director Daniel Fallik and producer Yotam Motzafi peg the film as horror. While it may not be traditional horror, it has some horrific elements and what could be classified as an Orwellian theme, so yeah, I can see it categorized as a horror film as well. So, after some time grappling with a description or synopsis, here is what I feel like I can say about the story: Ben, who is mentally unbalanced, recalls the memory of one of the most important days of his life, an event that changed the course of his life and his perspective forever. This 13-minute Israeli short film records Ben’s disturbed and perhaps skewed memory of that event. To say more would be to give away this sly commentary on the military machine.
Growing up in Israel, Fallik and Motzafi certainly have experienced lives very different from those we Americans live. While not necessarily classified as a war zone, Israel has long suffered, along with many surrounding countries, its share of war and violence. One can only imagine what it might be like to grow up in a perpetual state of potential violence around every corner. Israel also has a conscript military meaning that nearly every youth, regardless of gender, must serve a certain amount of time in the military. While I do not know the filmmakers personally, I feel fairly comfortable in saying that both have served time in the military and this has undoubtedly helped to shape their ideas, feelings, and opinions of their country and the world as a whole. The Plan is their reaction to some of these ideas.
Ben is a young man who has begun to fall apart at the seams. We don’t know much about Ben, but he possibly suffers from some form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He is haunted by a particular event and recalls this event from the perspective of his now mentally unbalanced mind. But while the story is unique and a bit surreal, the clincher is the twist at the end. This twist is not only creative and unexpected, but also serves as a very pointed message about the military. I enjoyed this twist very much and it absolutely made the movie. Director Fallik keeps the audience on its toes and never reveals too much, even in what is perhaps the most absurd and surreal scene of the film involving Daniel visiting a mysterious man who lives on the outskirts of the desert and specializes in replacing certain body parts.
Told mostly through images and musical score, there is a bit of philosophical narration by Ben at the beginning and then at the very end that helps place the images in context. The cinematography, by Nir Darvasi, is splendid, with long, tracking shots and some very creative shots looking up from below the camera. Likewise, the musical score is meshed perfectly with the action. Yaniv Reveh’s music perfectly describes the action in each scene from dramatic to playfully comedic in a very subtle away at the end of the film. But perhaps the most emotional scene in the film has no score at all, and is stronger for it. This particular scene, the crux of the entire theme though we don’t know it at the time, is quite spooky and played for genuine tension. Yasha Soffer is genuinely scary in his voiceless role; choosing to play this scene entirely without dialogue or score only serves to strengthen the tension of the scene.
Made entirely by relative newcomers to the film scene, The Plan is a remarkable and quirky adventure in film and well worth the short run time it takes to view it. It marks director Fallik and all the others as filmmakers to watch. The Plan has just been recently completed and has not been released to the public yet, but for more information about this wonderful slice of cinema, go to http://www.theplan-film.com.