Thursday, August 2, 2012

Under 250: Footnote

Footnote was one of the films in the running for Best Foreign Language Film at this year's Oscars, and it's not hard to see how it got that far.  It has all the qualities the Academy looks for in its overseas picks: it's unflinchingly smart, deals with a family in peril, has universal, cross-generational themes backing its drama, and the acting is so on target it almost feels like a documentary.  Joseph Cedar's film is a battle of egos between aging, unrecognized father Eliezer (Shlomo Bar-Aba) and his lauded son Uriel (Lior Ashkenazi), staged in the surprisingly tense world of Talmudic scholarship.  When a clerical error finds Eliezer up for a major award meant for Uriel,  the embittered man finds his life's work validated - never realizing that his well meaning son is the man making sure he doesn't suffer the embarrassment of learning the truth.  It's an intriguing, rather droll comedy of errors premise, but the fact is: it should have been a short.  Footnote runs too long to sustain the tension, and though we begin to actively care about the outcome of the story, the payoff is so minimal it makes the preceding scenes feel like an utter waste of time.  As I actively tried to enjoy it, the film seemed to be fighting me...

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