Review: FOXTROT

The incredibly well lensed “Foxtrot” is a tough look at the stages of grief. This vivid Israeli feature takes its toll with an inventive structure that challenges viewers to put the pieces together.

A knock at the door delivers life crushing news to Michael and Daphna Feldman. Collapsing upon hearing the information, Daphna (or Dafna played by Sarah Adler) causes a ready-waiting team of medical professionals go to work on her injecting a sedative and carrying her to the bedroom. Meanwhile Michael (Lior Ashkenazi) takes the report that his son has been killed while serving in the military a bit more normally. At least, at first his reaction is what one might expect, but slowly his breakdown becomes more and more unhinged. And when another announcement hours later alters the previous details, Michael’s grief turns to unbridled anger. What he does next is selfish and impulsive.

Without giving too much away, the action then leaves the relative safety of the Feldman’s modern, high-end apartment and takes us to an isolated military checkpoint. The Feldman’s son, Jonathan (Yonaton Shiray), has been serving as a guard stopping vehicles along the road to check their information. It’s a boring job, and he spends his time with his fellow soldiers sleeping and eating beans out of tin cans. But while the conditions are comically pathetic and harsh, there’s a ominous pall hanging over every action they take. As one military leader tells them, they are at war after all.

As time passes, we learn more about the Feldman family. They are complex and even troubled. Jonathan’s military service is a grave concern. He’s a sensitive child whose drawing ability has him in line for something more intellectual than sitting day in and day out at an isolated military checkpoint. An animated sequence late in the film illustrates much about his character’s dreams and frustrations.

Writer/director Samuel Moaz has crafted a fine narrative that intimately examines grief in minute detail. The tedious nature of the approach may frustrate impatient viewers, but the excellent cinematography by Giora Bejach (“Big Bad Wolves”) is a feast for the eyes.

Difficult and painstakingly told, “Foxtrot” is a thoughtful meditation on grief and the consequences of impulsivity.

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