After their friend is run over and killed by a car, two elderly Israeli ex-servicemen take out their frustration by killing several citizens from the twenty-something generation.
ISRAELI FILM FESTIVAL: There’s an overwhelming grimness about Dror Sabo’s dark drama. From the Taxi Driver-like opening narration by its grey-haired protagonist bitterly opposing everything from naked babies on TV to the younger generation’s lack of manners, Eagles echoes other grumpy old vigilantes like the ones in Gran Turino and Death Wish.
Pollak and Gaon convince as men struggling with their fading relevance
Sabo’s first film since his slightly more upbeat Dead End (2006) is a bleak mood piece that conveys all too convincingly the downward spiral of practically everyone and everything onscreen. This shadowy world seems to feed on the lead characters’ rage, and it’s clear from early on that the film isn’t headed towards any sort of happy ending.
Sabo follows two elderly friends, Efraim (Yossi Pollak) and Moshka (Yehoram Gaon). Glimpsed in flashback as young survivors of war and displacement (the title reveals just how much Efraim and Moshka endured during the 1948 conflict), the deeply nationalistic pair are left traumatised when a mutually-adored woman and lifelong love is struck and killed by a car. The two take a late night beach walk together and share their grief; even this turns tragic when the men are forced to defend themselves after words – and punches – are exchanged with a brutish batch of thugs. The bloody encounter ends up being the cathartic release of pent-up resentment that Efraim has long-been craving; Moshka is far more troubled by the incident. A chance encounter with the man who killed their friend leads to further self-styled justice, and soon the pair goes on a killing spree, setting out to right the selfish wrongs of Israel’s younger population. All the while, Dina (Noa Barkai) their late friend’s daughter, is trying to track them down, having only just become familiar with the men’s past life with her mother.
Sabo’s rendering of Daphna Levin’s script captures the broader symbolism of old and new Israel in conflict, but it also paints a very personal picture of two disenfranchised elders. Both superb in their roles, Pollak and Gaon convince as men struggling with their fading relevance; they are driven by memories and passions that no longer hold any significance. But in a pointed irony, what Moshka and Efraim see as the shallowness of 20-somethings (Sabo paints it all a bit one-dimensionally) is also the very hedonism that they themselves desire.
Eagles is a tough, cold and disheartening journey. The actions of Efraim and Moshka occasionally teeter between real warmth and inhuman villainy, so naturally their self-righteous quest through the barrel of a gun makes it difficult to maintain sympathy for them. The film will be divisive and inspire debate, like important movies should.