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'Footnote's' bravura filmmaking: Kenneth Turan's pick of the week

March 29, 2012 |  1:26 pm

The year is still young, but there may not be a smarter, more satisfying film in it than “Footnote.” Intensely specific in story yet universal in themes, with a tone that turns on a dime from comic absurdity to close to tragedy, this is brainy, bravura filmmaking of the highest level, a motion picture difficult to pigeonhole and a pleasure to enjoy.

The subject matter does sound unlikely: an implacable rivalry between two scholars of the Talmud, the complex key text of the Jewish religious tradition, staunch rivals who happen to be father and son.

But this, the fourth work by writer-director Joseph Cedar, Israel's most accomplished filmmaker, has not lacked for recognition. It took the best screenplay award at Cannes, won nine Israeli Oscars (including picture, script and direction for Cedar, plus a pair of acting awards) and, like Cedar's last film, 2007's very different "Beaufort," was one of the five nominees for the foreign-language Oscar.

See it and understand what all the fuss is about.

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— Kenneth Turan


 
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