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
FOOTNOTE is an Israeli film that's Oscar-nominated this year for Foreign language category and I can see why it received the nod. It's quite possibly one of the funniest rivalry stories I've ever watched, and what makes the dilemma even more complicated is that it's between father and son. I think it's a well-made film, it's funny, it has its charms, you'll enjoy writer/director Joseph Cedar's way of telling you the backstories of each character, some of the scenes interestingly move like microform reel, those of us who didn't grow up knowing anything about Talmud or Jewish culture would get a slight education on one of some of the things they regard highly over there, but halfway through the film, it loses its attraction, it doesn't engage you enough, and ultimately it ends itself in somewhat of a tactless manner
Eliezer is the father and Uriel is the son and they both share the same last name, and that's where the misunderstanding plays its card. Both individuals dabble in the same literature but the father is old-school and stubborn and even though the film doesn't come out and say it, he may also suffer from some kind of autism or something that keeps him from desiring any social contact unless it's meant to celebrate him, or perhaps he's just introverted to the extreme. The son is more progressive, people are fond of him, and he enjoys the success that his father has always wishes he had. So when a certain prestigious award mistakes one for the other, Uriel is faced with the dilemma of what is the right thing to do. After he makes his decision, his father goes off and discredits his son's work. It's a pretty sad and tough family dynamics, if you think about it, because on the father's case, it's envy that turns into bitterness that turns into gloat, on the son's side it's wanting to live up to his father that turns into generosity that turns into feelings betrayed. Writer/director Cedar designs it so that things would escalate to the point where there is no other option but to openly confront each other, although oddly enough, the film never gives us that luxury.
The comedy aspect of it is very enjoyable, Cedar takes us through awkward room sizes and you'll get the giggles from watching Elizer putting on his giant headset, shutting everything around him down just to get some silence, and for the old professors roles, Cedar casts actors who look just like the stereotype, they look unintentionally amusing. Embedded in the competition is also a the theme of whether or not you are your father's son or if you are your own person. Uriel seems distraught and offended when his own son doesn't make any effort to win his love, like he used to do with his own father. Both Eliezer and Uriel are obsessed with the idea that success can only be found in one's achievements and accomplishments and the recognition from your peers, and how one can be better at that than everybody else, so much so that they're missing out one what's truly important, each other. I think FOOTNOTE is a very unique family dynamics film that deserves attention at the very least.
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