Fill the Void (Lemale et ha'halal) (PG)

Drama 90 May 24, 2013
By Diana Clarke
Rama Burshtein's Fill the Void opens on green leaves, smiling faces, lush billows of fabric that when pieced together, the sensuous images accumulating into a fuller picture, become a wedding dress, tulle and silk diffusing the glow. Engagements, weddings, births, and deaths: This film is a more traditional kind of marriage plot than you might expect in 2013, and Burshtein has cited Jane Austen as a major influence. Even within the sometimes intimate, sometimes suffocatingly close Hasidic Jewish community of Tel Aviv, where these life cycle events take place, love is not easy. And from the dense, textured carpet of her characters' emotions, Burshtein draws gorgeous threads and holds them to the light. The film centers around 18-year-old Shira (Hadas Yaron), who is about to be engaged when her older sister Esther (Renana Raz) dies in childbirth. Esther leaves behind a tiny son and a grieving husband (Yochay, played by Yiftach Klein); Shira's mother (Irit Sheleg) is unwilling to lose a grandchild to Yochay's inevitable remarriage, so she devises a plan to wed Shira to Yochay. A fumbling courtship follows. Shira's painful, tightly wound interactions with Yochay make clear that she’s still a child, unable to articulate what she wants or make herself vulnerable to him, while a weary Yochay desires only to be wanted and cared for in return. The Hasidic community is never shown interacting with society at large, only moving through it out of necessity. And that insularity-- the void-- results in deep psychic pain for the people trapped within its rigid structure, even as that structure supports them.
Rama Burshtein, Yigal Bursztyn Hadas Yaron, Yiftach Klein, Irit Sheleg, Chaim Sharir, Ido Samuel, Razia Israeli, Hila Feldman, Renana Raz Rama Burshtein Assaf Amir Sony Pictures Classics


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