Hatufim (Prisoners of War) Film Review

This is the Israeli series which inspired the US series Homeland. Three Israeli soldiers were captured whilst on a secret mission in Lebanon and have been missing for seventeen years. Finally, the Israeli government negotiates a prisoner swap and they are returned home. One, Amiel (Assi Cohen), has died and his remains are returned for identification and burial. The other two Nimrod (Yoram Toledano) and Uri (Ishai Golan) are skinny, fearful and traumatised, and need to find their way back into society. Amiel’s sister, Yael(Adi Ezroni) has been keeping vigil losing her parents on the way, and learning of her brother’s death tips her into a mental breakdown. Uri has returned to the love who promised to wait for him, Nurit (Mili Avital), but whilst he was away, she married his brother and bore his son. Nimrod returns to a daughter who is out of control, a son who was born after he was captured and a wife, Talia (Yael Abecassis) who has spent seventeen years campaigning the government for his release.

It is a very different series to Homeland. Firstly, the focus in this series is how the two men try to fit back into the world despite their deep trauma. There is suspicion about whether or not they have turned against the Israeli government, but this is far less of a focus. Secondly, these two men seem far more traumatised. I thought that Damian Lewis played the trauma of Nick Brody extremely well in Homeland; then I saw this. These two actors are horrifically skinny and the fear that is almost constantly behind their eyes seems so real. Even when it seems that they are going well, they can snap.

I don’t think that this series is better or worse than Homeland. They are telling similar yet quite different stories. Personally, I prefer Hatufim to Homeland, and I thank SBS for bringing yet another fabulous series to my attention.