No one wants to see a soldier at the door, waiting to break bad news.
This is exactly the scenario at the beginning of “Foxtrot,” the Israeli war drama nominated for this year’s Foreign Language Academy Award, when Michael (Lior Ashkenazi) and Daphna Feldman (Sarah Adler) answer their door.
The opening scenes of this unsettling story unfold with stark sobriety—void of music, cold and somewhat detached, but still dripping with raw emotion—exactly how you might feel stumbling through the news of your son’s death. The Israeli army already has funeral plans set for Jonathan, and the shock that the family (including daughter Alma, played by Shira Haas) goes through is brutal and raw, so realistic but somehow also feeling like a dream.
And, yet, the film’s vivid portrayal of grief is not the only trick up writer/director Samuel Maoz’s sleeve. “Foxtrot” shares three stories, the previously mentioned falling in the middle chronologically, and there are plenty of surprises along the way.
The second act portrays the days leading up to the bad news, though from Jonathan’s perspective. At a bleak, monotonous checkpoint in the middle of nowhere, Jonathan (Yonaton Shiray) bides his time with three other soldiers, sleeping in a shipping container that is slowly sinking into the ground. And the third act picks up with the Feldmans several months after the event.
The movie’s slow pace is a tribute to the enrapturing “realistic fairy tale” quality that it possesses. It contains several devastating twists and turns, each depicting something more than just the scene it resides in. A story like this is rife with political commentary, and, because of that, has even been denounced by Israel’s Minister of Culture Miri Regev.
With emotions brimming under a stolid exterior, Ashkenazi will break your heart with his performance, and the supporting cast keeps the standard high. These are characters who have clearly used the discomfort of the situation to bare their souls to the audience. By the end of the film, they don’t feel fictional.
“Foxtrot” may not have won the Oscar this year. Nonetheless, it is a film you will not want to miss.
“Foxtrot” opens April 20 at Midtown Cinema, 250 Reily St., Harrisburg. For more information, visit www.midtowncinema.com.
APRIL SPECIAL EVENTS
AT MIDTOWN CINEMA
“WesFest”: Wes Anderson Collection
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” (2014)
Friday, April 6, 9 p.m.
Tuesday, April 10, 9 p.m.
“Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009)
Saturday, April 7, 12 p.m.
Sunday, April 8, 12 p.m.
“Moonrise Kingdom” (2012)
Saturday, April 7, 9 p.m.
Wednesday, April 11, 7:30 p.m.
“Bottle Rocket” (1996)
Monday, April 9, 7:30 p.m.
Down in Front! Presents a Double Feature
“Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer” (1985)
Friday, April 13, 7 p.m.
“Masters of the Universe” (1987)
Friday, April 13, 8:45 p.m.
National Theatre Live
Monday, April 9, 7 p.m.
3rd in the Burg $3 Movie
“Reefer Madness” (1936)
Friday, April 20, 9:30 p.m.
Central PA Open Screen
Thursday, April 5, 9 p.m.
“Star Trek: TOS” Movie Marathon
Saturday, April 21, 10 a.m.