A witty and intelligent drama, Footnote features a clash of big brained egos as a father and son relationship reaches breaking point.
Israeli’s entry at the 2012 Academy Awards (it didn’t make the cut) Footnote focuses on a rivalry that is as old as time itself, that between father and son. The Bible, Shakespeare, and many other great texts have focused on such paternal themes, yet not many can lay claim to setting such a story in the world of Talmudic Studies.
For those who don’t know (and that would be most of us) Talmudic Studies is the name given to the study of Talmudic literature, which is a compilation of Jewish texts that were written in Palestine and Babylon circa 200-500 AD.
Footnote focuses on Talmudic professor is Dr. Eliezer Shkolnik, an eccentric and withdrawn creature of habit whose great career achievement is receiving a footnote reference from a revered scholar. Playing Eliezer is Shlomo Bar Aba, who perfectly portrays the grumpiness and stubborn nature of this sad professor. Even his wild, bushy eyebrows are perfect. (Good thing this film not in 3D, otherwise many would be compelled to pluck those bad boys).
Eliezer’s other accomplishment is his son Uriel (Lior Ashkenzai) himself an esteemed scientist who craves constant adulation to appease his ego. Something, of course, his father won’t give.
It is Uriel who is faced with a moral dilemma when he finds out the esteemed Israeli Prize for science that is to be given to his ecstatic father was actually meant for him. Should he conceal the truth? Or, should he break his feathers heart?
It is an interesting dilemma that writer/director Joseph Cedar presents with not only intelligent wit but with a visual flair, adding touches of animated effects and varied editing techniques.
Cedar’s best strength is his writing, with Footnote filled with thrilling exchanges of dialogue. Although marketed as a comedy (and it can be funny) it’s the dramatic moments that really excite, in particular one sequence where Uriel confronts his father’s rival and exposes bitter truths.
While neither father or son are likeable characters, Cedar still manages to make us care about what will happen to their tumultuous relationship. The end result is a gratifying treat.