When Daphna Feldman (Sarah Adler) opens the door to her Tel Aviv apartment and sees who it is, she collapses. Springing into action, the Israeli soldiers at the door surround her, sedate her and whisk her off to the bedroom. Daphna's husband Michael (Lior Ashkenazi) is left to face the terrible news: their son Jonathan has been killed in action. The Israeli soldiers methodically detail what will happen next, explaining funeral arrangements, who should be informed and even setting Michael's phone to beep every hour to remind him to drink a glass of water.
Michael follows the wishes of the soldiers and tries to come to terms with what's happened. Ignoring the advice of his brother, he heads to the nursing home of his mother, who suffers from Alzheimer's, and tries to explain Jonathan's death.
Michael does his best, but soon after the situation changes (revealing how would spoil one of the film's most wonderful twists). And the next act of the film focuses on a desolate Israeli road block set high on a muddy plateau named 'Foxtrot'. The road block doesn't see much action - the soldiers are more likely to have to open their boom gate for a wandering camel than a vehicle - and so the soldiers pass the time telling stories and questioning the safety of the converted shipping container which serves as their barracks.
The third act of the film takes us back to the apartment of Michael and Daphna, where they embark on a long discussion which ultimately leads to the unravelling of the preceding story.
Directed by Samuel Moaz, Foxtrot is a brilliant and confident film, both stylistically and in its wonderful storyline. The first act chronicling Michael's despair at losing his son is almost painful to watch, the use of overhead shots adding to the despair we feel for Michael as he paces around his apartment. That the film so drastically alters it course after the opening act makes it even more captivating. Soon we are learning of the boredom and very occasional moments of high tension that is life for the soldiers who man the Foxtrot checkpoint. Seeing these two disparate acts woven together at the film's conclusion is breathtaking.
Amazing performances also help the film. Lior Ashkenazi's Michael is bold and commanding. Sarah Adler as Daphna is also strong, providing the perfect balance to Michael's inability to cope. The young soldiers at Foxtrot are naive and world-weary at the same time, portrayed perfectly.
Foxtrot is a strange and mysterious film that offers up twists impossible to predict. It's a film that's compelling, surprising and profound.