Please don't read this until you've seen the movie.
For me, this movie isn't about critiquing anybody, tragedies happen to everyone, and nobody does anything irresponsible, accidents just happen. If you never take a chance, then don't drive to get ice cream, never leave the house, it's too dangerous.
For me, the movie is a wonderful example of the use of foreshadowing. I can usually predict what is going to happen long before anyone else. Here, the foreshadowing was very very subtle, yet, present throughout the film. it's not until the end that you discover you've been played the whole time, every moment of the film has hidden foreshadowing in it. The whole story, the tension between the father and the son, that's just a distraction, you think it's the son who will come to appreciate the father he doesn't yet value.
Seeing the film the second time through I enjoyed the acting from all three main actors as well as the in your face foreshadowing that, first time through, I didn't even see at all.
Here's my list of foreshadowing's that I missed completely: 1. The boy trying to cross the dangerous street, by himself (sent by his mother, so the film isn't a critique of the father) 2. The boy reaching *over* a black death notice on the billboard, the parallel of his later seen in the movie. Of course, the ride to death ticket is just above the death notice, that bus takes him to his death. You gotta count that. 3. The multiple times the story talks about the sacrifice of Isaac. 4. The boy couldn't get the replacement sacrifice to stick to the board. What? Four times? He can't put the alternate sacrifice back into the story, so obviously (in retrospect) the son will die. 5. Sending away the mother bird by the father. Why? So you can take the young. Last time I checked, and I should have caught this, it's so you can take the eggs, but the movie changed it to "young" to parallel the taking of the young boy. 6.The breaking of the glass by the young birds. That's gotta mean something, breaking the family maybe. 7. The mother binding the yarmulke to the boy's head, parallel to the binding of Isaac. That's not normally done, and only the one boy had that done, none of the other boys had their kippahs tied on like that, it was foreshadowing to parallel the binding of Isaac. 8. Telling of the sending away of the mother bird. Then what happens next?? The mother gets off the bus, sent away, only then can the boy be "taken". That's the very next scene, how could I have missed the connection?? 9. The mother flat out mentions it wouldn't have happened if she had been there. 10. The plaque at the very beginning of the movie. Come on, we all know children don't get an engraved seat. How did I miss that? The grieving father at the beginning of the movie looks over at an empty seat with nothing but an engraved memorial plaque with the name of his dead son *at the beginning of the movie*! and we don't do the math. I couldn't believe I missed that, that's so obvious it's hard to call it 'foreshadowing' rather, it's just the ending of the story and I don't even realize it until I see it a second time in the same movie. Nicely done, touché', well done. 11. Serving food. Come on, they were serving food at the beginning of the movie, we go in and see an obviously grieving father looking at the memorial plaque of an empty chair, and he can't speak. Since when do they serve food except at a shiva??? Hello? I missed the obvious, the blatant, again, well done.
I can't think of any other movie, whether murder mystery or otherwise where so many obvious clues are completely missed by the entire audience. In too many movies, the foreshadowing is too blunt, too obvious, gives away too much. In other movies, the foreshadowing is simply falsified, they hint one way but go another. In other words, the foreshadowing is just simply wrong.
Here, all the foreshadowing was legit, pointing to the taking of the young, sending away the mother, showing death notices with the boy, etc etc etc.
I, for one, didn't see any critique of the religious. The same thing could have happened at a ball game, or hiking trip, etc, the boy was coming, had left the water, you can't stop a boy from sneaking away to the pool, it happens every day, and at some point, little boys have to leave their mothers. That's not a religious tale, that's a family tale.
I am thankful for the religious authenticity, they did NOT make the religious look ridiculous as I've seen in other liberal moral plays which actually do try to make them look like idiots. Not here, no. Both parents loved the little boy, no different than any other father or mother. They obviously worried about when and what was the right push out of the nest, something every mommy and daddy do. All fathers have to go to work, this father's job was being the rabbi. Think about how tolerant he actually was with the boy showing so much disinterest. Yes, the father stood his ground, perhaps incorrectly, about the photo. But he also ignored the boy causing havoc in the shul while he taught and prayed etc. Only true love would ignore such, the man loved the boy deeply.
This movie is on my top ten list, and it's number one in the use of foreshadowing. Period.
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