Day 174: Fill the Void (August, 30)

Fill the Void (Lemale et Ha'halal) beggins with a transgression: a Hasidic Jewish mother gets through a religion prohibition and finds a way for her daughter to see her probably future betrothed. Mother and daughter are looking around a grocery store for the young Jewish guy. 

Despite this first scene, the impression that I got was the one of an ordinary sense for those that are outside of a Hasidic community: the ultra-Orthodox Judaism is too harsh with women, and too repressed for our taste. But slowly, scene by scene, individual by individual, we see the other side of the story, one that we cannot usually see - thanks again, movies, for taking me to places and time that I wouldn't know if not for you :)

A rabbi interrupts a meeting to help an old solitary woman to choose a new stove. He gives the matter the same attention and careful appreciation that we would expect only in more serious subjects. 

Rama Burshtein, the director, a Hasidic Jew, as some of the actors on the cast, shows a portrait of her community, but doesn't defend a thesis other than we cannot know what really happens behind those closed doors. She recognizes what is difficult, but doesn't limit her tale to that aspect. We can judge the outside - the clothes, the more visible habits -, but we cannot really know the dynamics in her Jewish community. We can also disagree with all of it, but we should be aware that we don't know much about it. That's the void to fulfill here, I think. 

And, at last, when it comes to a man and a woman intimacy, we'll know anything about. They keep the key to their relationship, and that's how Burshtein ends her delicate tale about love and life in a Hasidic community in Tel Aviv.

Fill the Void (Lemale et ha'halal). Directed and written by Rama Burshtein.
With: Hadas Yaron, Yiftach Klein, Irit Sheleg. Israel, 2012, 90 min., Dolby
Digital, Color (Netflix).

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