Not only that there is no such thing as bad advertising, but bad advertising can help a lot. The success (public, critics, festivals) of ‘s second film ‘Foxtrot‘ may become at some point an example in the text books of cinema and public relations. The critics in Israel (including the Minister of Culture whose office actually supported financially the making of the film) who have trashed the film for its political attitude without seriously discussing it and (some of them, probably) without seeing it just succeeded to create a big fuzz around ’Foxtrot‘ which will make many Israeli film fans go and see it, and may also draw the attention and increase the international interest. Will the viewers be rewarded with an exceptional cinema experience? Not in my opinion. It’s not a bad film, but it also has many disputable parts, and I am not referring only to the political approach. Will it win it an Academy Award? I very much doubt it will even make it through the selection, although, of course, I will be glad to be proved wrong.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6896536

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6896536

 

The film is built of three different parts, somehow like the three acts of a theater play. They may well be each of them a separate movies, as there are different leading themes in each of the acts, although they are interconnected. The first and the last part takes place in the house of the parents of a soldier, the middle one describes him and his comrades at the location where they are on duty, a a security checkpoint, someplace in an almost lunar landscape, that started to erode and decompose. A quote from ‘s Stalker comes to mind immediately, it’s just that the natural disaster around symbolizes the more universal disaster that is ongoing. I liked especially the first part, which describes so well the nightmare that any Israeli parent who sent his kids to the army fears more than anything else in the world. At some point in time the story breaks and the worse news received by the parents turn to something different and behind their grieving are hidden more darker secrets. The second part includes the problematic scenes and the least that can be said is that the story of the soldiers just out of their childhood put into the impossible situation of policing the local population in the occupied areas is told from a very programmatic point of view. Can such incidents happen in reality? Hard to believe IMO, but they deserve a discussion, and the discussion should be about the events and not about the right to show them on screen. The last part takes us back to the parents home, and the critical approach now shifts against the mid-class Tel Aviv families busy with their neurotics and  their own mean small personal traumas, unable to face reality and hiding themselves behind the smoke of grass.

 

(video source TIFF Trailers)

 

The three episodes have each their merits and their lose points, but they hardly come together, as each seems to carry its own message or more than one. Grief dominates the first, youth faced with war and politics dominate the second, escapism is the main theme of the third. It’s a world that seems to have a hard time coming together, and so do the messages of this film that lack shared coherence. The film is full of symbols, too many, some quite good (the road leading to nowhere), some too obvious (the mud, the reclining cabin), some re-circulated from other movies trying to make the parts come together without really succeeding (the camel). When they try to be direct, the makers of the film failed, as in the schematic representation of the soldiers, the local population, and the relation between them.  is fantastic in the first part, but his acting falls into mannerism and is less convincing later. is a semi-miscast, too young for the role, spends much of the first part under sedation and never lets us understand her relationship with the father or the son. Overall my feeling was that this ambitious film failed in many respects because it tries to say too much and lacks one leading thread. As the dance in the title the story goes ahead, aside, and back, to return to the point where it started. It is still very much a film worth to see, even if some of the viewers will get to see it because of the wrong reasons, while some other will avoid it because of the same wrong reasons.