Movies that focus on the torment of returning soldiers--from John Huston's "Let There be Light" to Hal Ashby's "Coming Home"--can convey war's horrors more woundingly than a gruesome battle saga. But not always.
Rafi, the young protagonist of "I Don't Give a Damn" (selected theaters)--Israel's most popular movie last year, and its nominee for the foreign film Oscar--is a young soldier, paralyzed from the legs down. An impulsive, idealistic guy before enlistment, he turns into an abrasive, self-pitying cynic. He punishes everyone around him--his mother, whom he ignores; his father, whom he drives to a suicide attempt; his brother and sister-in-law, whose home he trashes; his best friend, whom he insults, and his fiancee, whom he dumps.
Rarely has any handicapped hero behaved so boorishly. If Richard Widmark's Tommy Udo--famous for pushing a wheelchaired victim down a staircase in "Kiss of Death"--had met actor Ika Sohar's Rafi, Widmark probably would have gotten kicked downstairs himself.
In a way, the film is the study of a handicapped victim's resentment of and prejudices against the healthy. Seemingly, Rafi--a handsome, personable young man who gives no signs of such vicious self-absorption before his injury--can relate only to other paraplegics, though he's rough on most of them as well. His self-pity is so absolute that, after a while, it's hard to give a damn about him.