Samuel Maoz’s award-winning film has drawn equal parts praise and controversy in his home country. At the start of Foxtrot, a knock at the door leads to a frightening sight for Dafna (Sarah Adler): two soldiers, standing impassively, bearing what can only be bad news – the death of her son […] The setting is an upper-middle-class apartment in Tel Aviv bedecked with expensive furniture and dark, nightmarish- looking modern art, and the way the soldiers move – with surreal precision and authority – to handle the family is similarly fearsome.
Foxtrot is not a work of realism; the film doesn’t offer a gritty window into the life of an Israeli family wrestling with loss. Samuel Maoz’s drama, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival and was Israel’s (snubbed) submission to the Academy Awards this year, is a highly metaphorical triptych that’s trying to grapple with the quagmire of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Maoz’s last feature film, Lebanon [HIFF 2010], was a similarly bold work that caused controversy among Israeli viewers, depicting warfare exclusively from within a tank (with only a gunsight view of the outside world). Foxtrot is a more dreamlike movie that’s often grimly funny, but it has the same fascination with narrowing perspective and tightly guiding the audience into the viewpoint of each character. It certainly seems that Maoz is trying to make a point about the limits of living a blinkered existence, and he succeeds.
David Sims, The Atlantic