Israeli director Samuel Maoz’s newest offering is as bold and as ambitious as his 2009 Venice Golden Lion winner Lebanon: The Soldier’s Journey. Written as well as directed by Samuel Maoz and staring the always relatable Lior Ashkenazi (Walk on Water, In Therapy), Foxtrot is a heart wrenching family drama which deals with themes relating to loss, grief, anger and everything else in between. This thought-provoking drama succeeds in being both innovative in its nature and beautifully nuanced in its message, all the while managing to stay away from the usual tropes and cliches attached to the genre. Maoz isn’t afraid of approaching a subject matter many of his counterparts in Israeli cinema would usually run a mile from, subjects which have also recently landed him in hot water with right wing politicians who have often accused him of lacking in patriotism.
Michael (Lior Ashkenazi) and Daphna (Sarah Adler) Feldmann are the parents of Jonathan, a young soldier in the Israeli army who has just been killed in action. At hearing the news of her son’s passing, Daphna is left in a state of shock and is quickly sedated by the same soldiers who brought her the terrible news. As for Michael, he is left bewildered, angry and unable to process what has happened. When his brother Avigdor (Yehuda Almagor) arrives to console the couple, Michael refuses his help and says that he doesn’t want anyone coming around to offer their condolences or anything of the sort. His anger at the world and everyone else around him, including the family dog whom he deliberately kicks, is so great that it renders him incapable of thinking straight.
Advised by the soldiers to keep on drinking water every hour to make sure he doesn’t get dehydrated, Michael follows their advice to the letter almost subconsciously, until things take a turn for the surreal when the same group of soldiers returns to the couple’s apartment a few hours later with some surprising news. News that will only succeed in enraging Michael further.
Maoz’s story is told in three acts, one of which involves another surreal sequence in which we meet Jonathan Feldmann (Yonaton Shiray), a young man barely in his twenties stationed at a check point in Gaza. His job is a simple one, watch the cars that come in and put of the Palestinian territories into Israel, and make sure there are no terrorists amongst the travellers. One night, Jonathan finds himself involved in a tragic incident involving four young Palestinians on their way home after a night out. The incident which leaves the soldiers involved in a state of shock, is quickly dealt with in secrecy by the power that be.
With the action culminating back at the Feldmann’s apartment, the film does a brilliant job is mixing surrealism and drama to tell a story charged with raw emotion and political discourse in a country which is having a hard time reconciling itself with the daily violence and senseless deaths. Ashkenazi and Adler put in two beautiful performances as the once perfect couple turned overnight into strangers. Another masterpiece from Maoz, who just keeps coming up with the goods.