The Dive is another festival entry about adults dealing with the death of their father. Director, actor, and writer Yona Rozenkier uses that backdrop as part of a cathartic autobiographical work about his PTSD. But yes, it’s slightly frustrating that too many directors are using this as a jumping point.
Here, he plays Itai, a supporting character within a large, semi-abandoned kibbutz during another war between Israel and Lebanon. The real protagonist is Yoav (Yoel Rozenkier). He’s their family’s prodigal son returning from Tel Aviv during his father’s funeral. And way after both parties can make peace with each other.
Audiences already get a sense of Rozenkier’s absurdist world building before we get to see any characters up close. Cue the accordion music playing as bombs go off and antics ensue. The camera then spends a lot of time behind Yoav, as Yoel expresses that character’s simultaneous virility and exasperation.
Yoav and Itai are both veterans with conspicuously polar views on military service. Yoav opposes it while Itai glorifies it. And a third, younger brother Avitai (Micha Rozenkier) is in the middle of that debate. The three men play that out during intense military drills, including one that involves paint.
Rozenkier presents the inherent absurdity of a country with a perpetual wartime. He ties that theme up with hyper masculinity. In his view, this is prevalent in Israeli society in contrast to the West’s more ambivalent stance on gender dynamics. Which is great, but there’s too much of it here.