Foxtrot review – desert heat sears a family in crisis | Film

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Foxtrot is a movie from Israeli writer-director Samuel Maoz that is structurally fascinating yet also structurally flawed: its accumulations of ambiguity and mystery are jettisoned by a whimsical final reveal. But, before the retrospective letdown, there is an exhilarating kind of disorientation as we move from one narrative section to the next.

It is presented in three parts. We see the fraught existence of a successful middle-aged architect and his wife in Tel Aviv whose son is away doing military service; then the fraught existence of this son’s unit, out in the middle of nowhere guarding a border post; and then we are back with the architect and his family. It is a triptych of scenes of which the first and third are very theatrical, like a conventional stage play, and the second – the centrepiece, perhaps – is visually weirder, at times almost hallucinatory.

Lior Ashkenazi plays Michael Feldman, well-respected architect and bearded paterfamilias: a handsome figure of a man. (I can never see him without remembering his performance as the thirtysomething secretly in love with an older woman, opposite the late Ronit Elkabetz in Dover Koshashvili’s Late Marriage, back in 2001.) The difficulties in his relationship with his wife Dephna (Sarah Adler) are exposed by a traumatic official visit. We then move to a radically different scene: concerning that unit in the Israel Defense Forces. The fate of both father and son speaks volumes about official secrecy, official bad faith: a tendency on the part of the authorities to cover things up, never to admit a fault.

The first section is moving and Maoz creates a coup of sorts in toying with his characters’ emotions – and your emotions – hitting you with an almost surreal strangeness just as you are swallowing down the lump in your throat. Unfortunately, these switchbacks of feeling are ultimately less interesting than they appear.

Source: The Guardian
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