Eliezer and Uriel Shkolnik are father and son as well as rival professors in Talmudic Studies. When both men learn that Eliezer will be lauded for his work, their complicated relationship reaches a new peak.
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The story of a great rivalry between a father and son, both eccentric professors in the Talmud department of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The son has an addictive dependency on the embrace and accolades that the establishment provides, while his father is a stubborn purist with a fear and profound revulsion for what the establishment stands for, yet beneath his contempt lies a desperate thirst for some kind of recognition. The Israel Prize, Israel's most prestigious national award, is the jewel that brings these two to a final, bitter confrontation. Written by
Very fine film - only flaw is an unsatisfying ending
This bittersweet comedy from Israel is set in the rarefied world of academia and is a fine, interesting movie about the bitter relationship between a father and a son who both happen to be Talmudic scholars working at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and how their rivalry finally overcomes their filial obligations.
Eliezer Shkolnik (a terrific performance by Shlomo Bar Aba) is the father, and he seems a personification of male old age grumpiness. He looks at the at the rest of his colleagues with an insufferable air of intellectual superiority, and believes he hasn't been recognized to the extent that he deserves, yet the movie hints he is a bit of a fraud himself, his main claim to fame is having been thanked in a footnote in a book by a famous Talmudic authority. The more successful Uriel (Lior Ashkenazi, who usually plays young macho men, but here plays a middle aged academic against type) is the son. The film lampoons Uriel for being a lightweight scholar and for being too attracted to the media spotlight, yet he seems to be the more psychologically rounded of the two. The tense relationship between father and son finally comes to a bitter confrontation when the elder Shkolnik is mistakenly awarded an important academic prize that was meant for the son (I'm not going to reveal anything else about the plot).
I'm also obviously not going to reveal the ending but it seems underwhelming and unrealized, as if the director Joseph Cedar didn't knew how to end the movie. Thus, what was a fine film until then ends in a curiously unsatisfying way. Nevertheless, this is a fine movie with many great scenes. I especially liked two scenes: one is set in a small but tightly packed conference room and ends when one academic shoves another to the wall. In the second scene, a very pretty female journalist goes to the home of the elder Shkolnik to interview him and manages to get him to say very nasty things about his son.
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