“FOOTNOTE”— Father and Son


Father and Son

Amos Lassen

I have waited a long time to be able to see Joseph Cedar’s new movie “Footnotes” so when my copy came yesterday, I cleared my schedule and sat down to watch. After it was over, I found myself still sitting, unable to move and unable to think about anything else than what I had seen. I am constantly amazed at how far the Israel film has come. It the last several years, we have had some wonderful films come out of Israel and it seems to me that with each new release, the films keep getting better and better. “Footnote” was the film that Israel entered into Academy Award competition and the film was one of the five considered by the Academy and received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film. Once you see this, you will see why.

The movie is a comedy about the relationship between father, Eliezer Skolnick (Shlomo Bar Aba) and his son, Uriel Skolnick portrayed wonderfully by Israel mega-star Lior Ashkenazi. (I reason I repeated the last name is because in Israel, many second generation Israelis change their last name to something in contemporary Hebrew to show their separation from “The Old Country” and as a sense of pride for being a citizen of the country). Both men are professors and both are eccentric, each in his own way yet both men are in the same field—Talmudic study. (The Talmud, for those of you who do not know, is a commentary of the Hebrew Bible of which there are two versions—the Jerusalem Talmud and the Babylonian Talmud). The elder Skolnick is a purist who has never received recognition for his work while Uriel has continually received accolades and he seeks recognition.

One day, Eliezer receives a call from the Israel Prize Committee (the Israel Prize is the highest honor an Israeli citizen can receive and it is awarded ever year on Israel Independence Day) telling him that he is to be the recipient of the prize for his contribution to the scholarship of the country. When this happens we see a different Eliezer, a man who feels honored and his need for validation is exposed.

What I am writing now is NOT a spoiler. Uriel is thrilled by the news that is father is to be recognized but we learn a mistake was made. The committee that informed Eliezer that he was being awarded the prize calls Uriel to come in for a conference. It seems that the secretary made a mistake and the prize is not all meant for Eliezer but for Uriel. What happens next you will have to find out for yourself.

Everything about this film is excellent. Bar Aba and Ashkenazi turn in brilliant performances and the cinematography show us the beauty of Israel. The background music by Amit Pozansky is perfect and there is even a look at “Fiddler on the Roof” performed in Hebrew. The special features are excellent as well and include a featurette of “Behind the Scenes” and a talk with the director who explains how this movie came to be.