YUVAL ADLER’S BETHLEHEM — A REVIEW BY NICK CLEMENT

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Tough, gritty, stark, sad, and all-too-believable, the hard-hitting 2013 Israeli political thriller Bethlehem takes zero prisoners. Yuval Adler’s film explores the volatile relationship between an Israeli secret service officer (the fantastic Tsahi Halevi) and his potentially dubious teenage Palestinian informant (Shadi Mar’i). The film possesses some absolutely devastating final moments which are similar to the pessimistic but inevitable finale of the Palestinian film Omar.  Adler, along with co-writer Ali Wakad, crafted an extremely engaging story rooted in genre thrills, but also managed to explore everyone’s quest of navigating both sides of the socio-political divide within the dense and propulsive narrative. Yaron Scharf’s point blank cinematography was in perfect tandem with Ron Omer’s razor-sharp editing, while Ishai Adar’s minimalist yet suspenseful score sweetens the pot. Bethlehem was the recipient of six Ophir Awards, and screened at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the top prize. It was the official Israeli entry for Best Foreign Language Film, but it was shockingly not nominated. This is a riveting piece of cinema with terrific performances and a downbeat but truthful denouement.

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