Film: Fill the Void (U)

Fill the Void

The biggest surprise at last year's Venice Film Festival, Fill The Void is a fascinating introduction to the ultra-orthodox Hassidic Jewish community.

Rama Burshtein, Hassidic herself, depicts a world out of time in this, her first film.

Imbued with the community's traditions, rules and rituals, she tells a story based on real events, whose protagonist is Shira. She's 18 years old and doesn't want to end up like her old spinster aunt or her friend Frida.

But her aspirations are put on hold by the death of her older sister Esther who dies giving birth, leaving a baby boy and husband Yochay.

Two weeks after Esther's death, Yochay gets an offer of marriage from a childhood widowed friend. But Shira's mother refuses to separate from her grandson and comes up with the idea of Yoachy marrying Shira, to which he consents.

Shira, emotionally confused and lost, is perturbed too by an unexpected physical attraction.
Burshtein confines almost all the action to crowded rooms and, staying close to the characters, captures their most intimate emotional journeys.

A strikingly beautiful and well-scripted film, it provides a contemplative atmosphere and visual richness which, along with its documentary style, matches the free and spontaneous attitude of the characters.

As the film reveals, there are many different paths to marriage but this in the end is a romantic story that everyone can identify with.