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DVD Review: Footnote

July 24, 2012

Footnote – A Sony Pictures Classics’ Release

DVD Release Date: July 24th, 2012

Rated PG for mature themes

Running time: 106 minutes

Joseph Cedar (dir.)

Joseph Cedar (writer)

Amit Poznansky (music)

Shlomo Bar-Aba as Eliezer Shkolnik

Lior Ashkenazi as Uriel Shkolnik

Alma Zack as Dikla Shkolnik

Micah Lewensohn as Yehuda Grossman

Our reviews below:


Footnote DVD Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

Uriel Shkolnik (Lior Ashkenazi) and his perfectionist father Eliezer (Shlomo Bar-Aba) are both professors who have spent their lives working in the field of Talmudic Studies.  When Eliezer gets a call saying that he has won the Isreal Award, he is thrilled to finally have his work being recognized.  There’s only one problem – the award was actually meant to go to his son.

Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at last year’s Academy Awards, Footnote is an interesting and well written look at the relationship between a father who feels that his time in the spotlight has been stolen by his son, causing a family rivalry that is destined to never truly resolves itself.  Carried by dialogue and an excellent musical score by Amit Poznansky, the film is worth seeing for the continuously inventive cinematography and uniformly strong performances.

The DVD includes behind the scenes footage and a Q&A with writer-director Joseph Cedar.


Footnote DVD Review By Erin V.  

*** (out of 4)

Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars, Footnote, from Israel, is about a father and son, both professors of Talmudic Studies.  When the father Eliezer Shkolnik is mistakenly told he has won a prestigious award meant for the son Uriel Shkolnik, Uriel must choose between letting his father receive his award or to take it back from him.

This quiet film presents an interesting and well written look at the relationships between father and son and their competition with each other.  Both are very well-drawn up characters, and the actors portray them very well and keep us watching.  For those interested in cinema from around the world, this is a well made one to watch.


Footnote DVD Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Footnote tells a smart and often funny story about family dynamics between a father and adult son.  Both father Eliezer (Shlomo Bar-Aba) and son Uriel (Lior Ashkenazi) are Talmudic professors who often butt heads over their shared expertise.  Despite Eliezer’s lifelong work, he has never gotten a nomination for the Israel Prize, the most prestigious in the country.  So when Eliezer’s name accidentally comes up for a prize intended for Uriel, he must decide whether to tell his dad and take the prize, or give the prize to his father.

This is a well made film.  One of the things I found interesting is Eliezer’s behaviour and personality, which is attributed to autism at one point in the film.  Eliezer’s sensory issues, from his over-stimulation in public, to his use of industrial earmuffs while studying, certainly is common to some autists.  Eliezer also has difficulties with social skills.  He often gets obsessed on every detail of his work, which can be a blessing and a burden.

The acting in Footnote is very believable, which helps make the story universal to audiences anywhere.  While people studying theology may get more of the references, the screenplay and acting make it quite watchable.  The cinematography captures each character’s emotional state, which is echoed in Amit Poznansky’s excellent score.  Anyone interested in foreign language film or theological studies should check out Footnote.


Footnote DVD Review By Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

Nominated in 2011 for an Academy Award in the Best Foreign Language category, Footnote is an intelligent and witty father and son tale from Israeli filmmaker Joseph Cedar.

Eliezer Shkolnik (Shlomo Bar-Aba) is an eccentric professor who has spent his professional life researching and analyzing the Talmud.  The only publication and recognition of his well respected work is a small footnote referencing his contribution in a colleague’s published paper.  When Eliezer takes a cellphone call informing him that Professor Shkolnik has been nominated for the coveted Israel Prize he is shocked and secretly proud.  Meanwhile, Eliezer’s son Uriel Shkolnik (Lior Ashkenazi) has been making a name for himself as a professor and researcher in Talmudic Studies.  When his father is nominated for the prize, Uriel can’t help thinking that shouldn’t the prize go to him, not his father?

What I liked about Footnote is how much of the story is told through the playful musical score by Amit Poznansky.  The close-up shots of Eliezer’s face and the many scenes that are dialogue free tell us so much about the characters, Eliezar in particular.  The cinematography in this film has a wonderfully playful tone that is matched by the musical score.  Even for viewers like myself who aren’t familiar with Talmudic studies, this subtitled film has a universal appeal.  This is a story about a father and a son and wanting to be recognized for your accomplishments.  With excellent performances this is an interesting comedy that has a lot to offer viewers who appreciate good film.


Footnote DVD Review By Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

Footnote (הערתשוליים‎, pronounced He’arat Shulayim) was Israel’s entry for the 2011 Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award, written and directed by Joseph Cedar. Shlomo Bar Aba and Lior Ashkenazi portray father and son Eliezer and Uriel Shkolnik, professors of Talmudic research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Uriel is popular, with well attended classes and many publications to his name. Eliezer is the opposite, having spent his whole career between a cluttered home office (with industrial earmuffs keeping out distractions) and the library, poring over microfiches of the Jerusalem Talmud, an early collection of 3rd and 4th century rabbinical teachings with commentaries in the margins.

An unrelenting perfectionist, he analyzed handwritten fragments for many years before feeling ready to publish a definitive edition of the text, but just before this a more recent copy was discovered and published by his rival Yehuda Grossman (Micah Lewensohn). Eliezer is especially bitter because as chair of the Israel Prize (equivalent to a knighthood) Grossman has refused to recognize his rigorous research, ensuring every year that the prize went to what Eliezer considered less worthy academics. The fact that he dismisses most of his colleagues, including his own son, as pragmatic hacks while his own publication history is limited to a footnote in a mentor’s paper has not done Eliezer’s reputation any good.

One day Eliezer receives a call that he has been offered the prize. Soon afterward, Uriel is summoned by the committee to inform him that the prize was supposed to be his, but the story of Eliezer’s honour has already been leaked. Uriel is angry, trying to persuade the committee to give his father the recognition denied to him over the years, since to do otherwise could kill him. However, the price of giving up the prize to Eliezer may also prove too high for Uriel to accept.

Except for a confusing lapse that is never explained where Eliezer is seen with his son’s stuff and a strange woman, Footnote is a brilliant film, beautifully edited with a thoughtful script delivered by an excellent cast. Even in Israel study of the Talmud is a rarefied discipline left mainly to eccentrics whose lives are consumed by it. This is perfectly reflected by the use of closeups and generally claustrophobic atmosphere of the film, for example in the committee meeting set in a room little bigger than a closet. Background material is provided by witty narration using images flipping over on a microfiche reader. The quiet irony of the story is reflected in the spare musical score by Amit Poznansky, reminiscent of Eric Satie.


Consensus: Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars, Footnote is an inventively made Isreali film about the rivalry between a father and son, that is worth seeing for the strong performances and excellent musical score.  ***1/4 (Out of 4)

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