Foxtrot is this year’s second serious contender for the silver lion (best direction award), and it’s once again a film from the Middle East. Based on a classic Greek tragedy, it tells the story of two parents – Michael and Daphne – who receive the saddening news of the death of their son Jonathan; we are then shown the life of Jonathan at the Israeli checkpoint where he works, in the desert, with three other fellow soldiers. A decision, made for a very good reason, will prove to be fateful.
The spectacular camera work of Samuel Maoz – who won the coveted golden lion in 2009 with his previous film, Lebanon – masterfully takes the viewer within the state of shock and desperation of the father. The bourgeois, ample apartment suddenly feels like a claustrophobic prison. Michael’s despair clashes with an army officer who treats the happening like a normal occurrence, describing each step of the soon-to-be-held funeral in a cold, admin-like fashion. At that point -– the peak of the clash between the two – Foxtrot begins to reveal its sarcastic, black-humorous traits; it’s subtle, a series of details that make you smile, or even laugh. In the following scene Michael visits his mother to tell her about the tragic news: in a ballroom, old ladies dance at the back of the shot and, as the trumpet solo plays, a younger lady happily dances along the front of the screen – classy irony.
Maoz’s style becomes darker (the cinematography is fantastic, and so are the dystopic elements) and more entertaining in every checkpoint sequence; the loneliness of these four young men is the consequence of the absurd necessity to control a road in the middle of nowhere, where one of the most regular travellers is a camel they need to open the gate for.
Foxtrot is a film about coincidences that aren’t casual, that seem part of a bigger plan. It was inspired by a real episode experienced by the director, who nearly lost his daughter the day he told her she’d have to take the bus to go to school. She was late and she missed it, a few moments later a terrorist detonated his suicide vest on it.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Foxtrot doesn’t have a UK release date yet.