The story of a great rivalry between a father and son, both eccentric professors in the Talmud department of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The son has an addictive dependency on the embrace and accolades that the establishment provides, while his father is a stubborn purist with a fear and profound revulsion for what the establishment stands for, yet beneath his contempt lies a desperate thirst for some kind of recognition. The Israel Prize, Israel's most prestigious national award, is the jewel that brings these two to a final, bitter confrontation.
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This Israeli film delves into the lives and relationship of a father/ son; renown scholars of the Talmud (Judaism's holiest book; the literal translation is "to teach").
"Footnote" commences with the induction of "Uriel Shkolnik" (younger Professor Shkolnik: solid, sensitive depiction by Lior Ashkkenazi) into the Israeli Academy of Sciences; his speech resonates with respect, close to idolatry for his father and the tremendous inspiration instilled by "Eliezer Shkolnik" ( Shlomo Bar Aba). The camera focuses on the grumpy, curmudgeon who instead of pride and joy for his son, exhibits distain, envy, anger; hard to imagine the weight of the Sisyphean chip on his shoulder resulting from his lack of recognition by his peers; denying him for twenty years the coveted Israel Prize.
A tragic dilemma occurs resulting in a psychological study of father, son and their families. Of particular interest are the wives of these difficult men; devoted, conflicted women, searching for solutions and meaning in their brilliant, tortured mates and how to find a common ground in which to thrive.
This is a disturbing, and at times humorous slice of life. Watching it I thought of other father/son relationships where historically the son outshines the father in the same profession: Picasso's father knew when his son was ten that he had taught him all he could about painting; Bernini, late sixteenth, early seventeenth century Italian sculptor, transcended his father's gifts; Sammy Davis, Jr., Cal Ripken,Jr. starred and eclipsed in music and baseball the skills of their fathers; General Douglas MacArthur far exceeded his father on the battlefield. Today's Manning brothers, Peyton and Eli are the progeny and radiant legacies of Archie Manning, whose abilities on the football field have been bested by his sons. Most fathers would rejoice at the prowess of their sons, inheriting their gifts and taking those abilities to a higher level. Not Professor Eliezer Shkolnik; ultimately worthy of the solitary, lonely "footnote".
"Footnote" left me with an uneasy, disquieting sense of incompletion; I felt somewhat cheated by the outcome but not enough to deprive it of...
THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!