Samuel Maoz’s Israeli drama Foxtrot is a story of familial grief told in three parts

Film Review by Gianni Marini | 14 Mar 2018
  • Foxtrot
Film title: Foxtrot
Director: Samuel Maoz
Starring: Lior Ashkenazi, Sarah Adler, Yonaton Shiray
Release date: 1 Mar
Certificate: 15

Samuel Maoz follows his astonishing 2009 film Lebanon with another that continues to depict the chaos and tragedy of war. Michael Feldman (Ashkenazi) is an architect with a pristine apartment in Tel Aviv, whose wife, Daphna (Sarah Adler), collapses when she answers the door to the news that their son has been killed in the line of duty. The first act is silence interrupted with harsh, repeated sounds like the door buzzer, or a dog banging at a glass door. The camera hangs above Michael’s head as he moves around as though underwater, or else the shot is focused so tightly on him you can see the tiny hairs that cover his face. The sound design and cinematography conspire to create this suffocating atmosphere such that when the film moves to its second act you realise you’ve been holding your breath.

Michael and Daphna’s son, Jonathan (Shiray), is posted in a unit guarding a roadblock surrounded by orange mud. Instead of the confined space of his parent’s apartment, Jonathan is restricted by his military duty. The unit trudge back and forth from the roadblock to their barracks in a shipping container, accompanied by a soundtrack of lounge music. The standout scene involves one soldier dancing with his rifle – Maoz deftly finds the amusement in the situation.

Before the end, however, tragedy returns and a third act that seemingly attempts to combine the stylings of the previous two falters somewhat. Regardless, it is in this final act that the film’s philosophical musings formulate. Directly opposite the door of Michael’s apartment hangs an artwork formed of infinitely revolving and reducing black squares. Foxtrot explores the repetition of past mistakes through generations by evoking the dance steps of the foxtrot – a dance that leads you to your starting place repeatedly.

Foxtrot screened at Glasgow Film Festival 2018

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