“Fill The Void” — An Unorthodox Solution?

FEEL THE VOID, STORIA D'AMORE TRA EBREI ULTRA ORTODOSSIA moving portrayal of grief and family — of obligation and choice for one young woman; an Orthodox Hassidic Jew in Israel.  This film is a window into a world of religious customs, family dynamics and matchmaking that feels so real that the audience may feel privileged to share this intimate portrait.  Rama Burshtein’s “Fill The Void” is a beautiful vision that seems like a Renaissance painting with cinematography that begs for freeze-frame!  Each tableau of family drama features velvety blacks in the clothing and furred hats of the men, rich reds  like those of the gleaming accordion and glowing whites, especially in the child-like, virginal garments of our young lead, Shira (Hada Yaron).

Asaf Sudry, the cinematographer, takes us into this private world with overhead shots peering down on the proceedings of a bris and taking us in close to see the face of Yochay (Yiftach Klein) as his feelings for his son’s caretaker subtly shift as he rocks in a hammock cradling the sleeping infant.  The film is full of quiet scenes of intimate discussion and prayer.  There is not much suspense as the outcome is foretold by the film’s poster but watching Shira’s journey from stunned grief to acceptance of family duty reveals a rich tradition of faith and a glimpse into a world not often seen in films.

All of the actors give wonderful performances that feel like portraits of real people; as if the film is a documentary that is somehow made with a hidden camera.  Hadas Yaron, in her first lead in a feature film, won a Best Actress prize at the Venice Film Festival in 2012 but it’s Yiftach Klein who is the soul of the film and the actors who play her parents: Irit Sheleg and Chaim Sharir who give the story it’s gravity and dignity.  Rama Burshtein made this, her first feature film, to share her vision of life as an Orthodox Jew.  In creating a film that juxtaposes scenes of women walking in the streets, waiting for a bus and grocery shopping with intimate shots of men singing at the dinner table, the family gathered in mourning, and religious ceremonies inside the temple, Rama Burshtein has crafted a loving portrait of a religious community in a modern world.  “Fill The Void” is a film about love and family that can be enjoyed by anyone from any religious or cultural background.

Rating: 3 glasses of red wine

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