The Beaufort of the title refers to a castle built by the Crusaders during the 12th century in southern Lebanon. In 2000 this mountaintop fortress is occupied by IDF (Israeli Defence Force) troops, who are preparing to withdraw from the position 18 years after their predecessors captured it. Led by a volatile young officer Liraz (Oshri Cohen), the men are sitting ducks, subjected to attacks from unseen Hezbollah guerrillas, and they begin to question whether their colleagues’ lives have been sacrificed in vain.
Israel’s nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars makes an interesting companion piece to the recently released (though not in Scotland) Under the Bombs. This is the Arab-Israeli conflict seen from the perspective of the ordinary Israeli soldier. Action is subordinated to mood and atmosphere, with writer-director Joseph Cedar (a former paratrooper) shooting the labyrinthine interiors of the bunker to suggest the confines of a spaceship. Admittedly, few of the characters are interestingly defined, and it’s hard to pick them apart when clad in combat gear, while the broader question about the legitimacy of the war remains unaddressed. Yet, Cedar successfully conveys the boredom, claustrophobia and fear experienced by these conscripts, and there is an exceptionally tense sequence in which a bomb-disposal expert inches closer to a potential booby-trap.
Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Fri 2–Tue 6 May.