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The Independent Critic

Lior Ashkenazi, Shlomo Bar-Aba, Aliza Rosen
Joseph Cedar
Rated PG
103 Mins.
Sony Classics
2 featurettes ("Behind the Scenes of Joseph Cedar’s Film: Footnote", "An Evening with Joseph Cedar").
 "Footnote" Review 
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Eliezer (Shlomo Bar-Aba) is a man who has labored for years intensely studying the Talmud at Hebrew University and quietly discovering even the most minute of inconsistencies within its texts and translations. His son Uriel (Lior Ashkenazi), on the other hand, is more of a pop culture theologian whose works have made him popular and widely sought after on television and in other media settings.

These two men are incredibly different yet they are remarkably similar. They have spent their lives devoted to studying the Talmud, a text guiding Jews in daily life yet a text that appears to have had little impact on the daily lives of Uriel and Eliezer. Footnote is a comedy, yet it is a remarkably insightful and intelligent comedy. While it may seem as if a comedy based within the world of theological research would be limited in interest and scope, this is cinema and Footnote benefits from two terrific performances by Shlomo Bar-Aba and Lior Ashkenazi.

Bar-Aba and Ashkenazi convince quite well as a conflicted father and son whose relationship vacillates back and forth between conflict, envy, jealousy and admiration. Bar-Aba feels like he's seething with bottled rage, while Ashkenazi radiates a calmer warmth that doesn't always reveal all that is going on within him.

Writer/Director Joseph Cedar manages to take a challenging topic and make it incredibly humane and humorous. He accomplishes this both with his dialogue and with the way he structures and blocks scenes with tremendous fluidity. The film ultimately gains speed when the winner of the Israel Prize is announced, a prize that would be for both men the ultimate professional achievement and one that, even for the normally humble yet secretly craving acknowledgment Eliezer, would be tremendously desired.

Footnote was an Oscar nominee this year for Best Foreign Language Film and is currently on a limited arthouse run through the U.S. with Sony Classics. The film opens in Indianapolis on May 4th, 2012 and continues its run in multiple other cities.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic 
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