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'Our Boys' is Based on the True Story of Revenge that Led to War
August 12, 2019  | By David Hinckley  | 2 comments
 

Our Boys
, a dramatized retelling of the fallout from a triple kidnapping/murder in Israel in 2014, plays like the popular American Crime Story series on steroids.
  
Our Boys, a 10-episode series that premieres Monday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO, doesn’t enhance the inherent drama in this case, because it doesn’t have to.
   
The story comes with a measurably higher level of intensity because the kidnapping and murder of three teenage Jewish boys enraged pretty much all of Israel. 

When the bodies of the three were found, it triggered a backlash that further shredded the perpetually tenuous relations between the Israeli and Arab communities inside Israel’s borders.

As this might suggest, Our Boys wades into a story whose criminal implications, which are appalling enough, come wrapped in an overlay of far-reaching political division and consequence.

The acting is interspersed occasionally by real-life television reports from the case including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s eulogy to the victims. His speech, however, is really more a mission statement on the resilience and unity of Israeli Jews.

Consistent with the way true-crime dramas have been presented on most networks in recent years, Our Boys tells its wider tale through a handful of individual stories representing different perspectives on what was unfolding.

One central figure, Simon (Shlomi Elkabetz), is involved as a key operative inside the Israeli Security Agency.
  
The agency has strong indications early in its investigation that the three boys are not alive. It is deliberately avoiding all public speculation, however, which Simon fears could lead to a problem.  

Statements from the parents and others during the first two weeks, while a search is underway, take a very positive tone. They reflect a defiant and completely understandable hope that the boys will come home.

Simon fears that if hopes are raised too high, a bad ending could trigger a deflation that could in turn fuel a push by some of the more militant elements for lethal retaliation.

Meanwhile, the story has us following two very different and unconnected young people. 

Avishai (Adam Gabay) is a devout yeshiva student who tells his parents he wants to withdraw from school even though he’s close to finishing his courses. They immediately begin pressuring him to reconsider, bringing in both relatives and the family’s long-time rabbi.

On the other side, Avishai is urged by a militant uncle to follow a more aggressive interpretation of the Torah than the yeshiva is offering.

Avishai wrestles with this dilemma just as the kidnapping goes down, and he soon becomes involved with its aftermath.

In another part of town, young Arab Mohammad (Ram Masarweh) happens to find himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. He’s not just a pawn in their game, however, because Our Boys has fleshed him out in a way that, among other things, underscores the difference in dreams and aspirations between young Jews and young Arabs.
  
So it’s a flashpoint for Mohammad as well when, after 17 days of intense searching, the bodies of the victims are found, and Simon’s fear about militant response will soon be tested.
 

You don’t need to know more than this broad outline to recognize the stakes and the implications of this case in a region where many people already sleep with one eye open.

Our Boys keeps Israeli politics understandable to outsiders, though with this, as with any politically tinged drama, there will doubtless be arguments over whether the story has been laid out evenly.

This much seems inarguable: As Our Boys unfolds, it becomes true crime and even truer tragedy.

(The series is a joint U.S./Israeli production, and includes subtitles for English-speaking audiences.)                
 
 
 
 
 
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2 Comments
 
 
Angela
I'm half way through this incredibly intense and taut series. The director makes you feel the claustrophobic atmosphere there. Everything from the acting to the directing and cinematography is perfection.
I'm showing my ignorance, but as far as a positive collaboration goes, I'm going to hold out to the end of the series before I come to a conclusion even though I feel like Lev's probably right.
Sep 18, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
Lev
I've watched 3 episodes and beyond it being well written, acted and presented I NOW perceive an Israeli/Arab collaboration resulting in a positive environment for both groups a total impossibility. The distrust, hatred and desire for revenge and retribution cannot be overcome. A loss for everyone.
Aug 21, 2019   |  Reply
 
 
 
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