Reviews From the 2018 Washington Jewish Film Festival

Scaffolding
Directed by Matan Yair

Asher (Asher Lax) is at a crossroads. The 17-year-old works with his gruff father Milo(Yaacov Cohen) in his scaffolding business, but he is also getting ready for his high school matriculation exams with the help of literature teacher Rami (Ami Smolartchik). The hot-tempered student ends up in the principal’s office far too often, but even though Asher acts up in Rami’s class too, sometimes it’s just because he’s impatient to find out what happens at the end of that Greek tragedy. Israeli writer/director Matan Yair uses a naturalistic touch on this classroom drama, so much so that the movie’s central metaphor and on-the-nose literary references feel absolutely organic. That’s thanks to a uniformly strong cast and an especially sensitive performance from Lax, who was one of Yair’s students and in fact inspired the movie. The young actor comes across as a feral James Franco; volatile, impressionable, and finally heartbreaking in his struggle to communicate with his emotionally distant father—and to be receptive to an education that may open up a very different vocation. While many of the area’s film festivals promise far-flung stories but simply deliver the usual crowd-pleasers, Scaffolding is the kind of breakout drama that should find life outside the festival circuit. —Pat Padua

Sun., May 6, 5:15 p.m., Landmark Bethesda Row; Wed., May 9, 8:30 p.m., Landmark E Street Cinema.

Read more reviews at Washington City Paper.