Film Review: ‘Footnote’ Deserves Prominence With Great Storytelling

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CHICAGO – Answering the question, “Where are all the great film thrillers about Talumdic Studies?,” the awesome film “Footnote” considers that very subject, pitting the always complicated relationship between a father and son against an treasured academic prize. Even though it sounds starchy, it actually had more verve than most spy movies. Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the recent Oscars (losing to “A Separation”), this Israeli work defines the country and its atmospheric landscape through the plot, which is another remarkable achievement. There is more cultural acumen to be gained from viewing this film than a hundred showings of “Fiddler on the Roof” (which also gets a sharp and funny poke in the story). The pacing and the style of director Joseph Cedar uplifts the whole narrative, he touches upon the humanity of the situation in a way that maintains the dignity in all of his marvelous characters.

Eliezer Shkolnik (Shiomo Bar Aba) is a scholar who has spent his life researching the different versions and phrasings of the Jerusalem Talmud. His son Uriel (Lior Ashdenazi) is also an academic, much more modern and popular than his stubborn father, who is doggedly attached to his old-school research methods. Eliezer had made a tremendous discovery in association with the holy texts, only to have years of fact-finding undercut by a colleague named Grossman (Micah Lewensohn), who by chance had similar findings through a lucky discovery. Eliezer clings to a single footnote, his personal best achievement, in one of the most prestigious books ever written regarding the Talmud.

His life changes when he receives a call from the Minister of Education, informing him that he has won the monumental Israel Prize, the highest honor in the field of his study. Thinking himself finally exonerated, Eliezer’s ego goes on high level overdrive, effecting his estranged wife Yehudit, his son Uriel and the media that is covering the event. When a mistake is revealed in the awarding of the prize, the challenges ahead will test everyone who is even remotely involved with the scholar – especially his son – and finally the man himself.

“Footnote” continues its limited release in Chicago on March 16th. See local listings for theaters and show times. Featuring Shiomo Bar Aba, Lior Ashenazi, Micah Lewnsohn, Aliza Rosen and Alma Zack. Written and directed by Joseph Cedar. Rated “PG

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Footnote”

Paper Lion: Shiomo Bar Aba (Eliezer) in ‘Footnote’
Paper Lion: Shiomo Bar Aba (Eliezer) in ‘Footnote’”
Photo credit: Ren Mendelson for Sony Pictures Classic

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Footnote”

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