Review: Israeli war drama ‘Foxtrot’ leaves lasting mark
The parents of an Israeli soldier receive the knock on their door that no parent wants to receive in the opening of “Foxtrot,” a deeply profound drama about wars fought in the field and at home.
Lior Ashkenazi (last year’s “Norman”) plays Michael Feldman, who gets word that his son, Jonathan (Yonaton Shiray), has been killed in battle. The news sends his wife, Daphna (Sarah Adler) collapsing to the ground. Michael is forced to go through the protocol of funeral arrangements, even though the details of his son’s death are kept vague and his requests to see the body are denied. Holding his hands under hot water, Michael scalds himself until the burns match the pain he feels.
The film shifts to the perspective of Jonathan, who is holed up at a military checkpoint with three fellow soldiers with whom he sleeps in a shipping container that is slowly sinking underground. Jonathan and his comrades pass the time dancing with their guns and telling tales from back home until one night, a routine stop goes way off the rails.
Writer-director Samuel Maoz returns to the Feldman’s home in the film’s final chapter, where he explores the wounds of marriage, of losing a child and the truths that often go unspoken. The burn marks on Michael’s hand are nothing compared to the emotional scars exposed here. While Moaz employs some technical tricks that smack of over-direction — dramatic overhead shots, swiveling cameras — the emotional core of his story sends shockwaves. “Foxtrot” tells a universal story about sadness, pain, regret and loss. Like a self-inflicted wound, it leaves a mark.
Rated R for some sexual content including graphic images, and brief drug use
Running time: 113 minutes
At the State Theater in Ann Arbor