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Foxtrot

Apr 10, 2018

A stirring study of war and its losses.

Foxtrot

Grade: A

Director: Samuel Maoz (Lebanon)

Screenplay: Moaz

Cast: Lior Ashkenazi (7 Days in Entebee), Sarah Adler (The Cakemaker)

Rating: R

Runtime: 1 hr 48 min

by John DeSando

The loss of a child can bring unspeakable sorrow, caught in its essence by Samuel Moaz’s Foxtrot a stunning study of an Israeli family’s tragedy. Their fallen son is not just the Feldman family’s loss; it can be an emblem of the Israeli storied toughness set against the absurdity of its fight and the cost to a relatively small but prominent world population.

Basically a tripartite film, Foxtrot’s first section languishes with the father, Michael (Lior Ashkenazi), as he responds to the universal call of two soldiers coming up their sidewalk, announcing the death to a fainting mother, Daphna (Sarah Adler). Moaz’s shots are largely close up and over head both intended for us to feel his pain and his alienation. Never do these shots seem artsy; they are where we would be if we could enter Michael’s space and view him from a judgment pov. 

For the second part, which shows the son, Jonathan (Yonotan Shiray), at a desert outpost, the camera is more distant and the light much brighter. As the narrative shows a soldier dancing with a rifle and an animated black and white sequence accompanied by a suckled breast, the tone has changed to playful and absurd.  This airy sequence is appropriately comical to heighten the daily tragedies.

Part three is the natural outcome of grief, itself accompanied by the foxtrot of the title, a simple dance to counter the daunting complexity of death and its aftermath. The film is a study of loss and grief exacerbated by a gritty culture that does not negotiate with the enemy and constantly deals with the Holocaust in its grief-laden memory.

All this and more is in a remarkably deep and sometimes light study of war and its outcomes.  Foxtrot was Israel’s entry in the Oscar sweepstakes this year and deserving its considerable attention.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com