This is a very adult film about a topic that affects people the world over: Terrorist attacks. Its title “Wounded Land” can mean several things: A rift between friends, an area torn asunder by hate, or the grief that loss brings. All three apply to this contemporary drama that’s set in Israel.
Israeli officer Kobi Amar (Roy Assaf, who appeared in “Wedding Doll,” which part of this series last year) is a member of the Haifa police force. His regional commander is his longtime best friend, the imposing Yehuda Neumann (Dvir Benedek.)
Now Kobi is involved in an assignment that will change the friendship: He is going undercover to investigate Yehuda on suspicion of corruption.
Kobi struggles with his new assignment, and with actions that he sees Yehuda take, when both their lives changes in a split second: A Saturday night suicide bomber injures and kills victims in the heart of the city.
Now the police force turns its attention to the hospital, where the missing are being sought and the injured are tended. And among those being treated is the terrorist himself, who is gravely injured. Those gathered at the hospital know of the terrorist’s whereabouts, and police are hand to ensure he is not attacked.
Screenwriter/director Erez Tadmor gives us no answers. Rather, he poses moral dilemmas and lets us determine whether the answers are black, white or gray.
I love the way that smaller situations reflect the title. In one scene, Kobi’s son and Yehuda’s son are in a competition in which Yehuda’s son clearly cheats. Kobi’s son is angry, but Kobi tells him to calm down because it’s only a game. It’s also clear that Kobi doesn’t want to challenge Yehuda, who is his superior, in front of both boys.
So where do Kobi’s loyalties lie? Ultimately, Kobi must face another decision about where he belongs when the safety of another family member comes into question.
It’s not just the police officers who are caught up in the bombing – so are the doctors, including one who faces accusations from his colleagues.
“Wounded Land” was nominated for 11 Israeli Academy Awards, with Assaf earning Best Actor and Tadmor earning Best Director.
Simply put, this is not an easy film to watch. But in its fast-paced and brief (just 80 minutes) running time, it presents us with characters who are forced into life-altering decisions. A film that doesn’t overstay its welcome, it has the feel of a well-written short story.
Although it is fiction, it’s as timely and unsettling as today’s headlines.