I like to eat marmite toast for breakfast. It has a distinct taste which I gain pleasure from. But if I have marmite every day, then after a few days the marmite gets boring and loses its pizzazz. However, if I have it once every three days and switch between cheerios, shreddies and marmite, then marmite always packs a punch.
Foxtrot is constant misery. Like marmite toast the sadness is always there. Very rarely does it pack a punch as you’re constantly feeling sadness but not really understanding what for.
The film is split into three distinct acts. I will discuss the first two acts before briefly eluding to the third, however this will be done in the spoiler tab.
Act 1: Michael מיכאל
“Mrs Feldmann?” asks the soldier at her front door. She goes into a fit as Michael Feldmann (the Israeli Steve Carrell doppelganger), her husband watches on hopelessly, knowing their son Johnathan is dead. He has to deal with this tragedy with the help of his brother. He sets up funeral arrangements and has to talk to his mother. He struggles with his grief, yelling at soldiers and demanding to see his son’s body and it’s all a bleak watch.
Click Here For Act 1 Spoilers
The last five minutes of the scene have us discover that Johnathan, their son was not dead and that it was another Johnathan Feldmann who had died and Michael demands that his son returned home.
Act 2: Johnathan יונתן
We meet Johnathan on a supply road with three other soldiers on shift. For a while we only see them let camels past their barrier and there is no real danger. He is a fun person who likes to dance, draw and tell stories. His life is mundane out here and the act feels like quite a drag for the most part. We don’t really get much of a background on him or his family. It only really starts to kick off when they mistake a beer can in a car for a grenade, killing four innocent Palestinians in a car, before the army bury the evidence.
Plot details requiring the Act 1 Spoiler:
The scene ends with the convoy going to pick up Johnathan and taking him home. The fact you know that he isn’t dead takes away from this act completely. It’s rather lethargic and even in the grenade scene, you know he’s safe.
Act 3: חוק 3
Plot details requiring the Act 1 and Act 2 Spoilers:
In this act, we return to Mr and Mrs Feldmann who both seem to be in mourning and loss. We currently dont have many details why, but Michael explains his army tragedies and is clearly struggling. They try to work out the meaning of the last drawing in Johnathan’s book with little success. Something is clearly wrong, but you’re not quite sure until the last scene of the film.
In the last scene, we see Johnathan on his way home after his father’s request. There is a camel in the road and his jeep plunges off a mountain. This moment does well with its shock factor, however as its so late, the pay off from this is minimised
Tel Aviv By The Sea תל אביב ליד הים
As I stated earlier on, this film doesn’t bring much emotional variety in its one hour and fifty one minutes. While Johnathan provides light entertainment, the film feels slow and mundane in these areas.
Information feels like its released far too early and too late throughout. Act 2 is ruined by the end of Act 1. I would’ve changed the order around and intertwined them a little bit more. Time jumping can be goofy, but it can help understand Michael’s grief at the same time feeling a sadness for Johnathan. As we are grieving for this person we don’t know, the effect is numbing. Act 3 also feels botched. If they had started it with the last scene in the movie it would’ve had a lot more impact, especially when revealing Michael’s army history. Maybe if it wasn’t foreign language, I’d be able to pick up more subtle clues, but it just didn’t feel put together quite right.
A sad film can be brilliant. Manchester By The Sea (Available on Prime Video) was sad throughout and the character could’ve come across as monotone and undeveloped. However, it time jumped and revealed enough information at the right time, unlike Foxtrot.
Foxtrot is not a bad film. However, its not an amazing film either. Pacing issues and poor structuring leave you feeling flat and not emotionally invested enough in its issues. For a solemn look at grief watch Manchester By The Sea instead.