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FOXTROT Review - Israeli Official Oscar Entry Delivers Compelling Drama

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FOXTROT, from Sony Pictures Classics and Bord Cadre Films, brings to the screen a dramatic story of how a series of unfortunate and tragic mistakes initiate its own set of terrible, heartbreaking and irreversible consequences.

Written and directed by Samuel Maoz FOXTROT stars Lior Ashkenazi, Sarah Adler, Yonatan Shiray and Shira Haas, Karin Ugowski, Yehuda Almagor, Irit Kaplan, Noam Lugasy, Danny Isserles, Yaakov Zada Daniel and Yael Eizenberg.

FOXTROT opens with Daphna Feldmann, played by Sarah Adler, looking directly at the camera while hearing the unmistakable message even before the words have been spoken, as three soldiers from the Israeli military, have arrived to deliver the sad news.

She collapses in shock as her husband, Michael, played by Lior Ashkenazi, stands in shock watching the officers sedate his wife. The death notification officer, played by Danny Isserles, begins to give Michael, obscure instructions for the next twenty-four hours.


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Soon, after the family has been notified Michael’s mother, played by Karin Ugowski, who suffers from mild dementia, and his brother, Avigdor, played by Yehuda Almagor, who begins to attend to the details, contacting family members.

Michael, as his wife is sedated, is attempting to deal with the news that his only son, Jonathan, played by Yonaton Shiray, has been killed in the line of duty at some obscure outpost somewhere in the middle of nowhere.

The details, he is told are sketchy, and as the protocol officer shows up to review the ceremony, Michael begins to question the actuality of the death. He demands to see his son's body. Within minutes the Death Notification Officer arrives explaining there has been a terrible mistaken, the Jonathan Feldmann killed is not your son. Your son is fine, well, on duty.

Devastation gives way to momentary relief. Michael remains adamant: he wants to see his son, to hear him, know he is still alive.

FOXTROT leaves the apartment of Michael and Daphna Feldmann at this time and soon we are at the outpost where we see two soldiers, one sitting on a pulled out front seat of an automobile and with the flip of a switch the roadblock rises and the first encounter we have with checkpoint is a local camel who passes the same way, down the road, each day.

The soldiers are on border control securing a roadblock in the desert leaves them plenty of time to talk of nothing and everything as we see maybe six vehicles use the backroad. Each of the vehicles are stopped and the identification of the passengers are sent to command central for clearance.

FOXTROT is a throughly engaging film. From the deeply tragic beginning to the elation of misunderstanding to an immediate anger over the ineptitude of the military that they could make such a mistake to the introduction of Joathan at his outpost.

The film is divide into two sets: The apartment and the outpost. In each ensemble, at the home we have the family and at the outpost we have the soliders and brief encounters with those who use the road. In each we see  there are stand outs, scene stealers who may not be aware of the powerful presence.

Captivating audiences around the world, FOXTROT was the winner of eight Ophir Awards, the equivalent of the Oscar, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Lead Actor for Lior Ashkenazi. 

The acting is obviously world class and each of the supporting players were so important to establishing the modern message of life, war, tragic mistakes.

Karin Ugowski, a German actress, who plays Michael's mother understands when she is told the message and calls her son by his brother’s name. Her brief screen time, with limited dialogue, was the set up for a deeper storyline that we learn from Jonathan.

The series of passengers stopped at the border also strike deep emotion levels even as no words are spoken. Pay special attention to the couple in the rain played by Irit Kaplan and Yaakov Zada Daniel and when Jonathan and a girl, played by Noam Lugasy, exchange smiles.


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FOXTROT the official Israeli entry to the 90th Annual Academy Awards, has also been selected for the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, 2017 Venice Film Festival, where it was the*Winner Of Grand Jury Prize - Silver Lion*, the 2017 Telluride Film Festival, 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and the 2017 AFI Film Festival. 

FOXTROT is shocking, funny, surprising, and engaging. In Hebrew with English subtitles. See it.

 

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