Foreign Favourites: Hearat Shulayim (Footnote)

(Spins the roulette wheel). And it’s time for another entry to the Foreign Favourites series. Today’s participant is the very prolific film critic Movierob who has a really neat collection of movie reviews that I really recommend you check out. You’ll be adding to the list of films you need to see in no time!

Footnote film poster

Hearat Shulayim (Footnote)

“[to a student] I will tell you something that my father told me once: Your work has many things correct and many things innovative. Unfortunately, the innovative things are not correct and the correct things are not innovative.” – Uriel Shkolnik

Number of Times Seen – 2 (6 Jan 2012 and 5 Mar 2014)

Brief Synopsis – A father and son who are rival academic research professors in a top Israeli university are pitted against one another when one of them is awarded the top Israeli academic prize.  This rivalry brings forth the true nature of their troubled relationship.

My Take on it – Not many movies focus so clearly on Academia and the brilliant men and women who are ensconced within that particular world.  This is one of the best ever done from their perspective.

I know that this is true since my real job actually touches upon this particular world and I know first hand how that world works.  The world of Academia is usually viewed by many as an elitist world with people not very sympathetic about much besides themselves and the fields they work in.  This is true in many cases, but not in all of them.

Outdoors pic

The director and writer of this movie, Joseph Cedar, also understands this world firsthand since he is the son of a noted Biology Professor at the very same University that this movie takes place in.  I’m sure that Cedar’s father and colleagues contributed much to the ideas behind this movie.

Having lived many years in Jerusalem myself, I am quite familiar with many of the locations seen in this movie.  It was nice to see the characters appear in many of those familiar places.

I actually have two other personal connections to this movie:  The first is that my wife and Cedar actually grew up in the same neighborhood and their families somewhat knew each other.  Apparently they made a nice impression on Cedar since in one particular scene, one of the characters lists off numerous surnames, one of which is my wife’s maiden name which isn’t the most common name.  🙂

Touching pic

The second connection is that a few of Cedar’s friends, who themselves are academics and now young Professors have cameos in one of the first scenes.  Two of them are acquaintances of mine via my job and whenever I see them, I kid them about their careers as famous movie stars.  In addition, one scene even mentions my own place of work.

Now that you have some background on Cedar, you can see how this movie is so personal to him.

What must make it even more personal for him is the father-son relationship depicted here.  Both of the main characters; Shlomo Bar-Aba (the father) and Lior Ashkenazi (the son) are excellent.  They play men who never really got along because of their differences, but still respect each other both academically and personally.  I don’t presume to know anything about Cedar’s relationship with his father per se, but the way these characters were written proves that he has a deep understanding of the workings of a strong father-son relationship even when they don’t always get along.

Reflective poses

Many of you may not recognize Ashkenazi, but he also plays the cop in Big Bad Wolves (2013) {yes, it’s him, take away the beard}.

The conflicted emotions felt by all the characters is done exceptionally well and we can see how human each of them are below the surface no matter the situations.

Ultimately, this is a story about a father-son relationship where neither of them is willing to outright profess to the other his love, respect and understanding of the other.

This movie was nominated for Best Foreign Film in 2012, but it lost the award to A Separation. It also won Best Screenplay at Cannes.

I love the movie poster at the top of this post because it is also an optical illusion.  Depending on how you look at it, you will see either two men’s faces facing each other or an ancient broken challis.  This shows the dichotomy of this movie; the personal relationship between two men and their love for the academic study of ancient texts which they both have devoted their lives to doing.

Bottom Line – Excellent look at father-son relationships while showing what it really means to love and respect one another no matter their differences.  Highly recommended!

Rating – Oscar Worthy

Thanks so much Movierob for such a cool review of such a distinct-sounding film. What an amazing connection to your real-life too. It’s a great reminder of how films can connect. And bonus points for introducing me to the film poster.