The Movie Waffler DVD Review - <i>Hostages (Season One)</i> | The Movie Waffler

DVD Review - Hostages (Season One)

Debut season of the acclaimed Israeli thriller, on DVD from Arrow Films.

Review by Troy Balmayer

This amazingly crafted Israeli drama from 2013 features a whole many treats in its well strung 10 episode run, from terrific twists to superb suspense, Hostages (or Bnei Aruba) puts together a compelling and dramatic show about family.
The premise itself, from Omri Givon and Rotem Shamir, is simple but brilliantly effective. A family of four are taken hostage in their own home by four masked figures who aim to kill the Israeli Prime Minister. This can only happen thanks to the mother being a nurse who will operate on the political leader. As the captors stay ever longer, things begin to crumble, and the house will never be the same again.
I am so glad I got the chance to see this series; I’d only heard of it thanks to the American show of the same name but this is a televisual delight that I can happily own and enjoy. It first aired on BBC 4 and I would recommend to it anyone that likes well-paced and structured dramas and thrillers. Radio Times couldn’t get it more right in stating that this is “intriguing…brutal…gripping.” The level of tension is off the scale at times and Givon and Shamir have come up with a near masterful story that keeps you on tenterhooks as you watch this family struggle unfold. It is the often unexpected twists in the narrative that engage and excite; there is a decent amount of mystery involved in this tale and as corners turn, certain events happen that keep you guessing even further. It’s put together really well and you'll find yourself watching the next episode straight away just to find out what happens next.
Alon Cohen and Roy Nassee deserve applause and attention for their fantastic scoring to accompany the show. The music builds such incredible amounts of tension to run nicely with the developing plot. Just from the first episode the tension is piled on and the music does that a lot throughout. It seems to trickle away like a bad nightmare down the back of your neck, lifting the hairs up as the action is presented on screen. In general the music is great and it’s the quick successive beats that get the heart racing.
Family is such a strong and present theme in this series, as mother and father try and cope with having their home and children invaded by worrying and dangerous people. Of course, with a show of this status, you expect things to happen to the family, and cracks in the Danon household aren’t a massive surprise, but as the characters of the four family members are explored you build a good sense of who they are as people and how they all interact with one another. It’s believable and quite sad also. Looking slightly outside the box, it can be viewed that the hostage takers are also like a family, dysfunctional but still one nonetheless. There’s the father figure and they too need to stick together, though fractures in their camp occur too.
Information during the process of this show is drip fed carefully as more problems pile up for either the Danons or the hostage takers. You can predict a few key moments but many swift changes of direction make you wonder how the end will come about and what indeed the end shall be. Its only slight weakness is that some decisions by the writers, and in turn the characters, are far-fetched, and the end is now as wow as it should be; but they are honestly tiny criticisms for a show that kept me enticed from start to finish.
The acting is brilliant; the mother, played by Ayelet Zurer, in particular stands out as a strong minded and resourceful female hero. She leads the series and keeps every episode powerful and emotional. Jonah Lotan plays the good yet troubling and misunderstood Adam really well, making you never actually hate him even if he is on the wrong side of the law, and in fact it’s a very interesting character to watch. I also too loved Mickey Leon’s Alex, but hey, everyone loves a psychopath (or is he!?) and he does get a great Mr. Blonde kind of moment too.
A wholly remarkable show that mixes heart and thrills in tensely orchestrated scenes, building a mysterious and dramatic story around politics, family and what you’d do for love.