Thursday, April 12th, 2012


The opening scene of this film is a ceremony where Uriel
Shkolnik is being honored as a new member of the prestigious Israeli Academy, and the camera stays completely focused on Eliezer his father who sits in the audience totally
stony-faced even when Uriel is lavishly praising him.  It neatly sets the whole timbre of this wonderful
enchanting movie that deals with the not so much rivalry between these two
expert Talmudic scholars, but the father’s disdain and jealously for his son’s
Eliezer is very old school.  A University Professor who has devoted his
entire life laboring away researching minute differences in various versions of
the Talmud and then just as he was about to publish his major finding he was
pipped at the post by a Professor Grossman who’s never been a big fan of Eliezer or vice versa. The only public recognition that he has ever had for his work was a
footnote in one of his long-dead mentors books where he is mentioned by
Uriel on the other hand whilst also a Professor at
the Hebrew University is a populist of Judaic law.  His work ends up in best selling books, and
he is a regular pundit on television shows, and is probably the most famous
Talmudic scholar in Israel.
Whilst awards and honors come easily to Uriel, his
father has submitted an entry for the prestigious Israel Prize for the past 30
years and has never ever won once.  He’s
unlikely too for the Chief Judge is none other than Professor Goldman. 
Then one day, an important phone call from an
official at the Education Ministry, looks like things may finally change for
the father.  The trouble is, that the
call was made in error, and it had in fact actually been intended for the son. 
Roger Ebert, a favorite critic of mine,  had hailed
this movie in the ‘Chicago Sun Times’ as a ‘merciless comedy’, and I had failed to get that so far.  But in  the next wonderful scene where Uriel is
summoned to the Ministry to resolve the problem created by the wrong phone
calls, the meeting takes place in a tiny office which is crammed too full with officials, and is really kafkesque and
hilariously funny.
This truly wonderful story about a father’s bitter
resentment about his son’s success and his popularity is even more poignant by
the fact that being Jewish the father is expected to take great pride in his
son. But he actually is just as angry with the whole world that he seems so out
of step with and which make for some great comic scenes as he tries to cope
with seemingly ordinary social occasions.
The two wives may seem like just onlookers in this
father/son story but their silence often speaks volumes. Both of them show that they do not approve of how their husbands treat their sons (Uriel is in danger of dealing with his own teenage son with the same diffidence that his father  gave him).
Expect no resolution or major reconciliations, its
just not that kind of movie.  What it is though, is a touching and tender tale to remind us how tough families can be some
times.  And all in the name of love.
Written and directed by Joseph Cedar who collected his
2nd Oscar Nomination for this (the first was for ‘Beaufort’ ) and he picked up a
Best Screenplay Award at Cannes.  It therefore
goes without saying that it swept the board at the Israeli Academy Awards. The
superb Israeli cast includes Lior Ashkenazi as Uziel who was so hot in ‘Walk on
and ‘Late Marriage’.  He’s still
hot as an actor even though it was hard for him to look it with that unkempt beard! (Yep, I know
I’m shallow sometimes… and your point is?  LOL)
Go see.


Posted by queerguru  at  00:44



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