The world of Michael Feldman (Lior Ashkenazi) is shattered by a single buzz at the door. Soldiers have come to tell Michael and his wife Dafna (Sarah Adler) that their teenage son has “fallen in action”.
Foxtrot, directed by Samuel Maoz (2009’s Lebanon), is a tightly structured, allegorical exploration of the Israeli male psyche in three acts, each offering a different perspective and tone. The film shows Michael’s reaction to the devastating report of Jonathan’s death, touching on the psychological effects of military service and the underlying trauma affecting Michael.
The film takes its name from the foxtrot dance, in which a sequence of steps leads the dancer to end at their starting spot. A foxtrot occurs in each of the three acts, in starkly different contexts. The sequences communicate the nostalgia, exuberance and despair the dancing characters struggle to express in words but are able to capture vibrantly in movement.
Act one homes in on the impact of the initial shock, drawing out an intense and nuanced performance from Ashkenazi. Part two takes us to an unspecified roadblock in the middle of barren land where Jonathan is one of four bored soldiers waiting and checking any passing cars (or camels). The final act returns to the kitchen in Michael and Dafna’s apartment, which now seems darker, more claustrophobic and disordered. Each of the three acts features a surprise or plot twist that cleverly jolts the viewer to recall the symbolic weight of the film and makes the audience feel as manipulated as the characters.