Sunday, April 1, 2012


2011, 103m, Israel

Both father and son are professors of Jewish studies and have devoted their lives to the same narrow chink of specialization. But whereas the son has become a celebrity, the father, more puritanical in his academic standards, and also a victim of bitter academic rivalries, remains obscure. His greatest achievement is being acknowledged in a footnote by a renowned scholar. His name has been proposed repeatedly for the coveted Israel prize, only to be vetoed each time by his arch academic ill wisher. But the day dawns when he is finally offered the prize, and the tragicomedy of errors takes off.

The film gives a delicately etched picture of the relationship between the aging father and his graying son. At the same time it gives us a glimpse of contemporary Israel, not to mention the pettiness and jealousies of the academic world. This gem of a film had me riveted till its ambiguous end. Does he accept the award? The movie concludes to the notes of what sounded like Chopin's Funeral March, which may be taken as a hint of sorts. A lovely film.

Review by A O Scott

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