Director: Joseph Cedar
Starring: Lior Ashkenazi, Shlomo Bar-Aba
Duration: 103 min.
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.
Footnote is a film written and directed by Joseph Cedar. It premiered in competition at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, where it received the Best Screenplay Award. It has been nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 84th Academy Awards, representing Israel.
Cedar's fourth feature film follows the tense rivalry between a father and son, both professors of Talmudic studies who have very different approaches to their work. The elder Eliezer (Shlomo Bar-Aba), is a bitter old man whose life's work has been passed over and ignored repeatedly for the award he covets most. So he harbors much resentment towards his son Uriel (Lior Ashkenazi), who receives constant recognition for his research.
On the surface you might think this film to be a rather insignificant story about largely uninteresting characters, and you wouldn't be wrong. However, Cedar does employ some inventive storytelling tricks here, in the form of slick text overlays, smooth digital edits, and a constantly present musical score that brings last year's The Social Network to mind, to provide a lively feeling to the otherwise dry subject. There is also a decent amount of dark humor injected into the accomplished screenplay to lighten the overall mood. Though it does border on the absurd a few times.
In the end Footnote does turn out to be surprisingly watchable, Cedar demonstrates some clear visual and narrative talent, and I have to give him some credit for making these dour characters tolerable. However, all the flash and dash can only do so much to carry what amounts to be an inconsequential and quickly forgotten story. I'm not convinced this even deserved to be shortlisted, let alone nominated as Best Foreign Language Film.
— Bonjour Tristesse