Sleeper: Footnote | On Demand
Joseph Cedar’s Israeli comedy centers on a thorny dilemma.
The Foreign Language Oscar nominee Footnote came and went this spring. But while it was understandably overshadowed by Asghar Farhadi’s great A Separation at the awards, Joseph Cedar’s Israeli comedy—which won a prize for its screenplay at Cannes 2011—centers on a fraught ethical dilemma of its own. Curmudgeonly Talmudic scholar Eliezer Shkolnik (Shlomo Bar-Aba) is awarded the prestigious Israel Prize, despite the fact that his life’s research was rendered unnecessary by an archeological finding. (We’re told the greatest pride of his career was a footnote by one of his mentors: “Brought to my attention by my friend and student, E. Shkolnik.”) The trouble is, the committee meant to give the prize to his son, Uriel Shkolnik (Lior Ashkenazi), a more versatile and modern scholar; the person charged with calling the winner dialed the wrong Shkolnik’s number. Uriel knows that telling his father the truth will kill him, not least because his dad’s nemesis is one of the judges—making the awarding of the prize to Uriel, a scholar for fewer years, a final humiliation. Much broader and jazzier than one might expect a comedy about dueling philologists to be, Footnote is funny at times, but it turns on a genuinely Talmudic dilemma: What’s more just, protecting family or preserving the truth? (Available on VOD, DVD and Blu-ray Tue 24.)