Bnei Aruba, Hostages (2013)
Written by: Amir Gutfreund, Danny Soffer, Gal Zaid, Nir Bergman, Omri Givon, Rotem Shamir
Starring: Ayelet Zurer, Dar Zuzovsky, Hilla Vidor, Ido Bartal, Jonah Lotan, Micha Celektar, Mickey Leon, Tomer Kapon, Yoav Rotman
HOSTAGES (Bnei Aruba)
Hebrew Language with English subtitles
Dr. Yael Danon, one of Israel’s leading surgeons, is selected to operate on the Prime Minister. What starts off as an honour to perform surgery on the leader of Israel soon turns into a nightmare when both Yael and her family are held hostage in their own home. Their demand – for Yael to kill the Prime Minister whilst he’s under the knife and if she refuses, her husband and children will die.
Set in Jerusalem, Beni Aruba, also known as Hostages, is a 10-part series that recently aired on the BBC and has been remade in the U.S. for American audiences starring Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott. The series focuses on Dr. Yael Danon, her school headmaster husband Eyal, and their children, daughter Noa who’s 17 and Assaf who’s 15. Each of their lives falls into Yael’s hands when a group of masked soldiers armed with silenced pistols enter their home and hold them hostage. Ordered to kill the Prime Minister, Yael refuses to commit murder and tries to sabotage their whole operation. Despite her best efforts to thwart their plans, Yael finds herself back at square one with her every move being watched. As the hours count down to the Prime Minister’s operation, the hostage situation begins to unfold as each one of the hostage-takers begins to crack and show their true colours, their secrets beginning to reveal. However, it’s not just the hostage-takers who have secrets they wish to hide…
Whilst an enjoyable thriller series that takes the viewer on a rollercoaster ride, HOSTAGES feels as though it’s been stretched out far too much and would have worked better at maybe 6 or 8 episodes at most. Some episodes drag and allow the viewer’s mind to wander rather than be gripped to the screen. The inconsistencies of the series also grate and lose the all-important tension that was created in the opening episodes. Examples of this are Noa’s leg, which is too sore to walk unaided in one scene, but shows her running shortly after with no problems, and also how the tight security on Yael seems to fall apart after a few episodes.
The performances in HOSTAGES are brilliant though, particularly from Ayelet Zurer as the smart surgeon Yael who’s courage and plan of action are the only things keeping her family alive, with her husband (Micha Celektar) attempting to convince her to do as the hostage-takers say and spare their lives. Their children, Noa (Dar Zuzovsky, who looks a bit like a young Eva Mendes) and Assaf (Yoav Rotman), also try their best to get help from the outside world and escape from their prison, but being watched and threatened at every turn makes their bid for freedom difficult.
HOSTAGES doesn’t play out like a conventional thriller. It takes a sudden detour midway through the series which breaks the tension and creates a whole new drama of its own as every man seems to be out for himself. The two units of us versus them seems to split, making the viewer question everyone’s motives especially when the hostage situation turns from military operation to emotional breakdown. Some of the plot threads explored in the later episodes of the series are a surprise whilst others are plain obvious, but the climax of the series opens up more questions whilst swiftly brushing under the carpet and solving others. This leaves a disjointed, drawn-out affair that seems as though the entire series is a set-up for things to come.
HOSTAGES is worth a watch for the performances but don’t expect a slick, nail-biting thriller. With there being no sign of Season Two on the horizon, the mysteries and questions raised at the finale of Season One may never be solved.