What You Need To Know:
FOOTNOTE is a dry, satirical comedy about academic rivalry and the age-old conflict between fathers and sons. The former conflict becomes very funny, but the latter conflict eventually seems very tragic. It doesn’t help matters that the movie just ends, with no resolution to the conflict between the father and the son. Other than this depressing open ending, there’s little else really objectionable in FOOTNOTE, which is a good movie otherwise.
(Pa, H, B, L, V, S, N, A, D, M) Light mixed pagan worldview with some pagan behavior, some mostly implied humanist elements, and some moral elements; three obscenities and zero profanities; two men scuffle during a tense meeting; two married couples lie in bed together in two scenes and a lewd reference; upper and rear male nudity in a locker room; brief alcohol use; smoking; and, jealousy, rivalry.
FOOTNOTE is an Oscar nominated Israeli movie about two Bible scholars, a father and his son, who get involved in a mix-up that brings out the father’s hostility. The subject is intriguing but ultimately depressing.
Eliezer Shkolnik is a stubborn purist working in Talmudic Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He’s never been recognized for his work, other than in a footnote by one of the greatest scholars in the field. In fact, when he goes out to get some fresh air at an academic event, the guard won’t let him back into the University, he’s so unrecognizable. Meanwhile, his son, Uriel, is an up-and-coming star in the field, but he concentrates on cultural and religious studies rather than the painstaking textual studies of his father. Making matters worse for the father, Uriel seems to be extremely well liked by the department chairman, who happens to be a rival of Uriel’s father.
One day, Eliezer gets a phone call telling him he’s finally been awarded the prestigious Israel Prize for Talmudic Studies. All of a sudden, accolades finally start pouring in for Eliezer. Then, when he’s interviewed by a major reporter, instead of discussing his own work, he spends most of the time viciously mocking his son’s work.
A darkly funny twist puts the shoe on the other foot (pun intended). A terrible mistake has been made, and the son is forced to choose between his own career and his father’s. Will he publicly sabotage his father’s glory?
FOOTNOTE is a dry, satirical comedy about academic rivalry and the age-old conflict between fathers and sons. The former conflict becomes very funny, but the latter conflict eventually seems very tragic. It doesn’t help matters that the movie just ends, with no resolution to the conflict between the father and the son. A critic in the audience remarked afterwards that such an anti-climactic ending is common among many Israeli movies, because Israel seems engaged in a never-ending, perpetual conflict with its villainous Arab, Muslim neighbors and the world’s seemingly never-ending supply of Anti-Semites.
Be that as it may, to be truly effective, a movie should resolve its major conflict in some kind of dramatic fashion. Instead, the story and conflict in FOOTNOTE just end.
Other than this depressing open ending, there’s little else really objectionable in FOOTNOTE (there’s very brief foul language and some lewd implications in two scenes). Until the depressing, unsatisfying ending, it’s actually one of the best foreign movies to make it to the United States in the last couple years. That’s probably why it’s a nominee at this year’s Oscar ceremony for Best Foreign Language Movie.