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Footnote

Submitted by MBergeron on March 31, 2012 – 4:29 pmNo Comment
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How would you like it if the entire research of your lifetime were reduced to a single footnote on page 700 of some published journal? This is what has happened to Eliezer Shkolnik a professor in Talmudic research in the Israeli dramedy Footnote. Meanwhile his son Uriel has achieved a level of scholastic success that eludes Eli leading to a comic yet sometimes mean spirited resentment among three generations of the Shkolnik family.

Under the direction of Joseph Cedar, whose previous film released domestically was the war allegory Beaufort (2007), Footnote moves with a funny oscillation between serious scholastic dialogue and a freeform cinematic style that takes the viewer by surprise. Cedar will occasionally break the linear flow with a flashback chapter about this or that character. Cedar remains grounded to the Jerusalem background by always having the protags walk through military checkpoints, while cut-aways almost subliminally remind one of the security present at the most mundane academic gatherings.

It’s not pretty when father and son go to battle over words. Around the midpoint an incident occurs that propels the rest of the film as well as acts as a metaphor for the character’s real feelings. Footnote has appeal not just for its pacing and subject but also for its way of bringing the ideas of the past into conflict with mainstream reality.

Perhaps not oddly Footnote acts as a two-way mirror to another Jewish themed film albeit one from Poland and set in WWII. I would call In Darkness a superior film although both of these films are winners. When In Darkness was at the River Oaks Three I took a friend who happened to be in town from Israel thinking they would just naturally cotton to the subject. When the plot was apparent, Jews hiding out from the Nazis in the sewers of the Ukraine, they just rolled their eyes at me as if to question why every film with Jewish characters has to be set during the Holocaust. Footnote is currently unwinding at the RO3.

- Michael Bergeron

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