AJFF Review: ‘Scaffolding’ Crosses Many Dimensions
ArtsAtlanta Jewish Film Festival

AJFF Review: ‘Scaffolding’ Crosses Many Dimensions

The triumph and tragedy of teaching and family life come through painfully clear in this Israeli feature.

Leah R. Harrison

Leah Harrison is a reporter and copy editor for the Atlanta Jewish Times.

A high school senior in a special class of students with various challenges, Asher is a fetchingly impulsive and unfiltered Israeli teenager trying to puzzle his way to adulthood. He lives and works with his stalwart yet emotionally distant father, who owns a scaffolding company and values hard work over homework.

In the Israeli movie “Scaffolding,” Asher is struggling to find a balance between the blue-collar ethic he has learned at home and his growing belief in himself that he can and should complete his high school education and dream beyond inheriting the family business.

Underestimated by much of society, a ragtag group of students finds understanding and tolerance from Rami, their patient literature teacher and kindred spirit with issues of his own. In Rami, the students find acceptance and inspiration and gain the desire to achieve where society expects them to fail.

The film could not be more aptly named. In “Scaffolding,” Asher’s father furnishes a disciplined framework for his life in addition to the legacy of the family business, while Rami reveals the possibility of another path.

The insightful teacher encourages Asher to ponder and eventually ask questions about his relationships and his life, just as he stands on the precipice of adulthood, trying to find footing of his own.

Asher Lax plays the movie’s main character, and Ami Smolartchik is Asher’s high school teacher. Matan Yair, Lax’s teacher in real life, is the film’s writer and director. In “Scaffolding” as in real life, Asher’s teacher shows the impact one educator can have on the lives of his students beyond the classroom.

Lax does an admirable job of portraying a teenager who can be temperamentally explosive and subtle, thoughtful and contemplative. Released last May, “Scaffolding” won four 2017 Israeli Film Academy and Jerusalem Film Festival awards and received nine other nominations.

True to Israeli cinematic style, Yair provides just enough detail to indicate where Asher’s path might lead, without tying things up in a neat little bow. The viewer is left to imagine the possibilities for Asher beyond the film’s pivotal and revealing conclusion.

(Atlanta Jewish Film Festival screenings: Jan. 28, 7:55 p.m., Perimeter Pointe; Feb. 3, 1 p.m., Tara; Feb. 11, 11 a.m., Springs)

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