Director: Samuel Moaz
Writer: Samuel Moaz
Starring: Lior Ashkenazi, Sarah Adler, Yonaton Shiray
Genre: Drama / World Cinema
A father (Ashkenazi) and mother (Adler) of an Isreali soldier who died in combat attempt to cope with their grief, but their lives gradually spin out of control. Meanwhile, we are also shown a glimpse of the painfully slow pace of life at the outpost where their son (Shiray) and three other soldiers were stationed.
The fact that I saw Foxtrot at the cinema back in February and still remember everything about it as if I saw it yesterday truly is testament to just how a great and unique film it is. There have been many films made with an effective anti-war message (though admittedly the number of pro-war films may well be zero) and from Come and See to The Thin Red Line, they have all been very effective in depicting their own particular reasons for deciding to adopt that message within their respective narratives. For Foxtrot Samuel Moaz takes a very unique approach in that he skilfully combines jet black humour and scathing satires with a profound and tragic poignancy.
I am a great believer that in all things (even the most tragic) there can be found an element of humour, providing it is appropriate and in the right context, and within the narrative of Foxtrot Moaz certainly seems to adopt this approach, particularly in the lengthy opening sequence. It is best entered with knowing as little as possible about the overall story (as I did), and this only serves to make it more effective in the way the film examines its themes and ideologies with a scalpel sharp humour and level of observation.
As with films of this nature, a low-key subtlety is the key in helping the film depict its themes most effectively, and from the performances to the narrative pace, everything is kept very low-key and subtle, sometimes to a very effectively unnerving level. Moaz keeps things so subtle and dry that we the audience can never be quite sure where the film is going, which can only serve to make it more engaging. Likewise, the intentionally slow pace is there to not only depict the film’s key themes but put things into perspective for the viewer, this not only allows to engage with the film’s main characters and their rather thankless and dull existence at the outpost, but when something dramatic does happen it does truly feel dramatic. It is however abundantly clear that beneath the surface is a scathing commentary, which is why the narrative does sometimes venture into the absurd and farcical with regards to what happens, which is perhaps one of the reasons why the film has courted some controversy.
Foxtrot is also beautifully cinematic, with Moaz intentionally using long takes and minimal music that not only truly captures just how dull life is for the four soldiers, but how desolate and isolated the landscape around them is. The overall sense of dark, subtle humour never leaves the narrative, and this is perfectly summed up in the film’s unforgettable conclusion. It is a conclusion that is intentionally filled with irony and absurdity, but also a deep sense of poignancy, and it is certainly one of the most unforgettable and haunting of 2019.
One of the most emotionally powerful and unforgettable films of 2019; Foxtrot is a film with a very powerful yet simple message, but is delivered in such a unique way that combines subtle (but observational) jet-black humour and a profound and poignant feeling of melancholy that it will leave a huge emotional mark on any who watch it.
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