Trending
MOST READ
Beaches Be Trippin\': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Arts & Culture: Let’s face it, most of us Lone Stars view the Texas coast as a poor man’s Waikiki. Hell, maybe just a poor man’s Panama Beach — only to be used... By Callie Enlow 7/10/2013
Chris Pérez, Selena’s Husband, Faces His Past and Looks Forward, Musically

Chris Pérez, Selena’s Husband, Faces His Past and Looks Forward, Musically

Music: Chris Pérez never saw it coming. “All I ever wanted to do was play guitar,” he told the Current. “I never thought I’d be the subject of an interview... By Enrique Lopetegui 8/28/2013
Chris Perez, husband of slain Tejana icon Selena, tells of romance, suffering

Chris Perez, husband of slain Tejana icon Selena, tells of romance, suffering

Arts & Culture: In one of the final chapters of his book To Selena, With Love (out March 6), Selena's widower Chris Perez mentions that Abraham Quintanilla, his former father-in-law, once... By Enrique Lopetegui 3/7/2012
Veg Out with Earth Burger

Veg Out with Earth Burger

Food & Drink: “Do you want cheese on that?” “Yeah, sure.” “Vegan or organic?” “Um, what? Where am I?” By Jessica Elizarraras 7/23/2014
Savage Love: The Boys in the Bandwidth

Savage Love: The Boys in the Bandwidth

Arts & Culture: I am a gay man and have been in a relationship with my GGG boyfriend for more than three years. We are in our early 20s and have a... By Dan Savage 7/23/2014
Calendar

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

Screens

‘Fill the Void’ and the Mating Habits of the Pious

Photo: Courtesy Photo, License: N/A

Courtesy Photo


Early in Fill the Void, said to be the first mainstream feature film directed by an Orthodox Jewish woman, the serenity of a Tel Aviv apartment is disturbed by loud rock music. Someone closes a window, and the Mendelmans, a devout Hasidic family, can resume their pious lives without distraction from the secular world. Consisting almost entirely of interior shots, writer-director Rama Burshtein’s feature debut confines itself to an insular subculture that refuses to allow Israel’s most worldly city to divert it from Torah. Unlike the cornucopia of recent Israeli imports that includes Waltz with Bashir, Beaufort, The Band’s Visit, and A Bottle in the Gaza Sea, Fill the Void is devoid of Arabs, soldiers and non-believers. What it does contain is an uncommon drama of duty and desire.

The Mendelmans are less disturbed by the distant clamor of an electric guitar than the marital status of their 18-year old daughter Shira (Hadas Yaron). In accordance with their customs, they are arranging Shira’s betrothal to a suitable Hasid when her older sister Esther dies in childbirth. Yochay (Yiftach Klein), Esther’s widower, is left with an infant son and a problem. According to the Talmud, “He who is without a wife dwells without blessing, life, joy, help, good and peace—and without defense against temptation.” So Yochay resolves to marry a widow in Belgium. However, lest she lose her new grandson to a distant land, Shira’s mother Rivka (Irit Sheleg) offers an alternative. She urges Shira to marry Yochay and become the baby’s new mother.

These are taciturn characters who quote Biblical phrases as a substitute for intimate conversation. There are long silences and long takes as Shira struggles with her decision. Yochay is considerably older, and a retread. Plus, marrying her sister’s husband seems creepy, like incest. Nevertheless, Shira is a dutiful daughter, eager to please her family.

Burshtein’s portrait of a patriarchal world in which men sing joyous Purim songs while women huddle in the corner is attentive and affectionate. Neither she nor Shira seems interested in rebelling against a system that values community over individual. Yet, when his marital advice is solicited, a sweet old rabbi asks Shira how she feels. “It’s not a matter of feelings,” she replies. “It’s only a matter of feelings” is his sage rejoinder. With so many other rituals to get them through the day, Burshtein’s people do not watch movies. To moviegoers, they might seem locked in a religious dungeon, but the world of Fill the Void contains enough commitment and compassion to keep their lives from being empty.

Fill the Void (Lemale et ha'halal)

Writ. & dir. Rama Burshtein; feat. Hadas Yaron, Yiftach Klein, Irit Sheleg (PG)
Opens at the Bijou July 26

Recently in Screens & Tech
We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus