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Clean Sweep

Smart cops-and-mobbers thriller strikes just the right balance of suspense and comedy as the combatants' personal lives keep getting in the way of their life-and-death jobs. Sexy lead Yael Hadar, as a tough female detective set up for a bad fall, helps make "Clean Sweep" more exportable than most Israeli pics. Remake potential is even higher.

Smart cops-and-mobbers thriller strikes just the right balance of suspense and comedy as the combatants’ personal lives keep getting in the way of their life-and-death jobs. Sexy lead Yael Hadar, as a tough female detective set up for a bad fall, helps make “Clean Sweep” more exportable than most Israeli pics. Remake potential is even higher.

Dark-eyed Hadar toplines as Aya, an unsentimental undercover expert notably unburdened by sentiment or fear. But she starts to feel a bit in over her head when she’s called in to help smoke out near-albino drug kingpin Patrick Zarusi (scripter Gal Zaid, in a startling turnabout from his nebbishy lead in “Facing the Forest”). That’s because her volatile b.f., the married and harried Reuven (Alon Abutbul), is in charge of the case, and she wonders if he may be trying to get rid of her while covering his tush as things go from bad to worse.

Although the police are hiding a solid witness (Shmulik Calderone) against the mob, the trigger-happy kingpin is a master of tricky disguises (rabbi? call girl?), and the witness himself — he’s called Shimon Peres, and many of the characters are named after famous Israelis — seems intent on making things blow up before the trial can happen.

So Aya heads out on her own, seemingly enlisting Patrick’s help against the fuzz and befriending the genial, dreadlocked pot-puffer (Tomer Sharon) who lives downstairs in the process. The stoner’s roommate (funny Dalit Kahan), who’s going through b.f. problems of her own, gets Aya thinking about the proper role of the female orgasm (or, more specifically, the right ways to please a woman) in a happening relationship. This only makes her more ticked off. Naturally, everybody gets roughly what they deserve, some of it in a quietly nasty fashion, before things head to a nifty twist ending.

Cast is uniformly engaging and tech credits are smoothly inventive. Sudden tonal shifts are occasionally jarring, as in an automotive sex scene that looks like cheesy TV porn (or maybe is supposed to be spoofing it). Most surprises are of the positive variety, though, and if Hadar can speak any English, she might soon be getting some interesting calls.

Clean Sweep

Israel

  • Production: An Israel Film Fund (Tel Aviv) production. Produced by Eitins Evan. Directed by Oded Davidoff. Screenplay, Gal Zaid, based on a novel by Limor Nachmias.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Gideon Porath; editor, Guido Mar-Chaim; music, Ofer Meri; production designer, Hedva Shefaram; sound (Dolby), David Lis; assistant director, Yoav Roeh; casting, Gila Cohan. Reviewed at Vancouver Jewish Film Festival, May 18, 2003. Running time: 90 MIN.
  • With: <b>With:</b> Yael Hadar, Alon Abutbul, Gal Zaid, Shmulik Calderone, Dalit Kahan, Tomer Sharon, Osnat Hakim, Hilla Sarjon, Avi Seder, Ofira Rahamim, Polly Reshef, Tal Rajuan Dar, Tzahi Grad, Dafna Levin, Yoav Nevo, Oshik Nini, Anat Corlander, Boaz Davidoff.
  • Music By: