Assaf Amir

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Fill the Void Review


Good

With honesty and sensitivity, this Israeli drama takes us into an unfamiliar subcuture, letting us experience aspects of life in an Orthodox Jewish community that we've probably never even imagined before. It's a strong story that's perhaps more fascinating than it is involving, although the bigger issues linger in the mind afterwards.

At the centre is Shira (Yaron), an 18-year-old who is just starting to get excited about her upcoming marriage. Her parents Rivka and Aharon (Sheleg and Sharir) have found her a suitable young man, but just before they meet Shira's heavily pregnant sister (Raz) dies suddenly, leaving her infant son to be raised by her widowed husband Yochay (Klein). After months of grieving, Yochay realises that he needs to find a new wife to help him, which perhaps may mean moving abroad. But Rivka won't think of losing access to her grandson, and suggests that Shira marry him instead. The problem is that Shira has no idea how she really feels about any of this.

Yes, Shira is the "void" in the title, a young woman who has never had to make a decision about who she is or what she wants in life. She has merely imagined meeting a nice boy and discovering married life together with him, so the idea of marrying Yochay throws her off balance only because he's already experienced at being a husband. Yaron plays Shira with just the right delicacy, as a young woman who tries to do the right thing and loses herself in the process. Others in the cast are a bit more melodramatic, especially in scenes that push the film's ideas about the intense pressures of this subculture.

Continue reading: Fill the Void Review

Broken Wings Review


OK
The winner of nine prizes at the Israeli Academy Awards and a hit in its home country, this is the story of a family that appears to define the term dysfunctional. A mother who is more than a little distracted strives hard to fulfill her parental duties, caring for four children who are a study in rebelliousness, escapism, and anger. Their torment and misery stretches patience to the point of annoyance until its source is finally revealed, at which point our sympathies are ignited.

Dafna (Orly Silbersatz Banai) can't quite catch up to her debts despite meeting all the demands of her job as a midwife in a local hospital, but she manages to provide the bare needs of her two boys and two girls. 17-year-old Maya (Maya Maron) is a singer-writer who might be on the cusp of discovery as a rock artist were it not for the demands of keeping the family together when Dafna isn't able to. The obligatory compromises lead to disaffection in the relationship and an unnatural sullenness.

Continue reading: Broken Wings Review

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