As sharply engineered as a reel of razor wire, Shariff Korver’s “Do Not Hesitate” is not the first film to expose the sheer lunacy of sending callow, heavily armed young men, versed in a machismo that sees sensitivity as weakness, into hostile territory and expecting everything to work out fine. But Korver sets his film, which is the Dutch international Oscar selection, apart from the “Jarheads” and the “Full Metal Jackets” of the world with the precision of its craft and the narrowness of its focus. This time, the story is told as though through the sights of a sniper rifle.
Directly in the crosshairs, there’s Erik (major breakout Joes Brauers), a personable, level-headed young soldier and avid amateur drummer, who has been deployed to the Middle East on a peacekeeping mission. When their tricked-out transport vehicle stalls on a remote mountain path, Erik and a small squad are left to keep guard until relief helicopters, expected the following day, can arrive. While they set up a rudimentary camp under the parching sun, Erik sees movement in a nearby bush and alerts the lookout, Thomas (Tobias Kersloot), who opens fire. In the stillness after ceasefire is called, they move in warily, only to discover the source of the movement to be a goat, now bleeding out from multiple gunshots.
They’re upbraided by Paula (Anna Keuning), their no-nonsense commanding officer, but the incident seems innocuous enough until a local boy (a brilliant, live-wire Omar Alwan), ferocious and not the slightest bit intimidated by these foreign military personnel, shows up screaming insults and curses at them in Arabic. They decipher that he’s claiming the goat was his, but when he’s offered a $50 note in compensation for it, he pockets the money and then demands more, spitting and snatching and snarling at them.
Still, he’s little more than an aggravation, until Paula is ordered by radio to take half of the team to investigate a nearby lookout point, and Erik is left in charge of the vehicle with only hotheaded Thomas and the rather dull-witted Roy (Spencer Bogaert) as companions. The boy returns, but the trio’s squadmates do not, nor do the helicopters arrive. And once their dwindling supplies are stolen, heat, thirst and clashing personalities soon strain the arid, sinister atmosphere to paranoid snapping point.
The intelligence of Korver’s approach, working from a fine, pared-back screenplay by Jolein Laarman, is to allow his excellent ensemble to breathe life into characters who are collectively the very embodiment of immaturity and inexperience, and individually representative of various conflicting ideologies. Half the time the three guys are bonding fiercely, engaging in highly physical roughhousing, their bodies fit and smooth as unused department store mannequins. The rest of the time is spent in surly silence or at each other’s throats. Thomas sums up their divergent approaches — which are demonstrated in the way each treats the local boy — cynically but not inaccurately: He is the outspoken, action-oriented pragmatist; Roy is the paycheck soldier; and Erik, Thomas insists with maximum derision, is the idealist.
And as initially played by Brauers with quiet good humor and thoughtfulness, Erik really does seem like the smartest and the most decent of the three, not participating in Thomas’ more vulgar horseplay, and trying to befriend the boy with protein bars and extra helpings of food. In the dry, bleachy sunlight, Nadim Carlsen’s calmly watchful camera makes Erik glow with a soft, youthful sweetness. With his close-shaven hair and peachy clear skin, he can look almost babyish in some lights; then like a skull in others.
Hard-edged as the film is, especially in terms of Ruben van der Hammen’s efficient, laconic editing, there is still a heady sense of being trapped inside the fraying, bewildered psychologies of its protagonists. Ella van der Woude and Juho Nurmela’s nervy score sometimes goes entirely impressionistic, as when percussion on the soundtrack mimics Erik’s impatient fingers drumming on the side of the van’s gun turret. In dazzlingly crisp images, boxed in to a narrow aspect ratio and threaded together in increasingly jagged, unnerving rhythms, the tight, taut storyline proceeds inexorably toward its awful pivot point and beyond.
This is a loss-of-innocence story, but we do not just bear witness to the end of something good, but to the birth of something bad, something corrupt and repressive and inarticulate that will live on long after, as the lasting consequence of a terrible deed that is just as significant as the deed itself. The term “war crime” summons up enormous, dramatic evil, and “Do Not Hesitate” is small in scale. But it’s convincing in suggesting that perhaps this is the way war crimes really happen: with the smallest, ugliest of bangs and the longest, most drawn out of whimpers.
Variety Promotes Dea Lawrence to Chief Operating and Marketing Officer
Variety has promoted Dea Lawrence to Chief Operating and Marketing Officer.
Lawrence has dramatically expanded Variety‘s business operations since she rejoined the brand in 2015 as Chief Marketing Officer. She led the reimagining of Variety’s thriving roster of annual events and summits by pivoting at the start of the pandemic to the creation of the Variety Streaming Room virtual franchise.
Along with Steven Gaydos, Variety‘s Executive Vice President of Global Content, Lawrence created the Variety Content Studio, which includes both brand storytelling and sponsored video series. Through savvy technology vendor alliances, she has improved the infrastructure and productivity across creative, event production, ticket sales and social media.
“Dea is an innovative and exceptional executive with a varied and deep digital skill set which has been invaluable to Variety as the worlds of technology and media are now inseparable,” said Michelle Sobrino-Stearns, Variety CEO and Group Publisher. ”Her leadership is a key factor to the success of the brand, and I couldn’t be more excited to work with her as we take Variety to the next level.”
Lawrence previously headed Variety‘s digital sales and marketing departments from 2001 to 2008. In her expanded role, Lawrence is tasked with driving operational efficiencies, resource planning, organizational development and marketing for the brand with a focus on video and digital growth.
“It is an honor to serve the premium brand in entertainment business news and to work with the best team in the industry,” said Lawrence. “I am grateful for the company’s ongoing trust in me and inspired to continue Variety’s expansion.”
Lawrence will continue to report to Sobrino-Stearns. She is based out of Variety’s corporate headquarters in Los Angeles.
Podcast Startup Podimo Taps Ex-Spotify Exec Sachin Doshi as Chief Content Officer
Podimo, the European podcast subscription-service startup, named digital media exec Sachin Doshi, whose career has included gigs at Spotify, Twitter and Universal Music Group, to the position of chief content officer.
Doshi, based in New York, will lead Podimo’s global content team and report to CEO Morten Strunge. Most recently, he was director of product at Twitter, having joined the social network last year after the acquisition of Scroll, the company he co-founded that had launched a subscription service for ad-free access to articles on participating sites.
Prior to co-founding Scroll in 2016, Doshi was VP of content at Spotify, where he worked for five years. Before that, he was at Universal Music Group for four years, most recently as director of business development.
Doshi’s appointment comes after Podimo, founded in 2019, last fall announced that it raised $78 million in Series B funding. Podimo’s lineup spans more than 950 original podcasts and audiobooks as well as podcasts from the U.S. and around the world through partnerships with iHeartMedia, Amazon’s Wondery, Paramount Network España, German audio platform FYEO, and creators like Norwegian crime novelist Jo Nesbø.
Doshi, in a statement provided by his new employer, said, “Podimo has thrived with a strategic focus on content in local markets and native languages. With that focus in place, I look forward to working across the organization, to marry content and product and unlock the full potential of a premium audio experience.”
Podimo’s Strunge commented, “Sachin’s history in media on both sides of the marketplace is inspiring, and perfectly suited to help Podimo continue to evolve our user experience and economic model for creators and rights holders.”