Opening June 21 at the Angelika Dallas and Anglika Plano Theaters
Review by: Mut Asheru
FILL THE VOID provides a cinematic detailed look into marriage within the ultra-orthodox Hasidic community in Tel Aviv. Directed by Rama Burshtein (herself a member of the community) this drama attempts to show the importance of family and custom within the tight-knight community from a woman’s perspective. Progressive women will recoil inwardly at the importance placed on finding a “husband” versus finding a love but nevertheless this film wasn’t made for prying eyes to judge the culture. It was made for us to observe and drink deep of the experience from an outsider’s perspective.
Told through the eyes of 18 year old Shira (Hadas Yaron) who herself longs to be married off, we get the chance to view the matchmaking process which for our heroine doesn’t turn out the way she had hoped. Her older sister dies in childbirth leaving behind a precious newborn and precious widower / brother-in-law Yochai (Yiftach Klein). Not even giving him time to breathe a new marriage is proposed and considered right away. Not for loves sake. In an effort to keep him from marrying and moving the new grandson to Belgium, marriage with the 18 year old sister in-law Shira is discussed and considered, again discussed and considered, accepted and called off, again accepted and called off and finally accepted. The film stalls in the numerous back and forths between Shira’s inward feelings about accepting brother-in-law betrothal candidate Yochai as her husband. After all, he was her sister’s husband and how dare she covet that spot.
Told through close-ups, tight sets and intimate lighting one gets the emotional impact of just how close this community is and how claustrophobic the sense of duty just might be. Hadas Yaron does a wonderful job of visually expressing Shira’s discomfort. The entire cast is particularly adept at bodily translating emotions and inner thoughts as the script is rather quiet and simple like the lifestyles of the community. While there is an occasional vocal outburst the script for the most part relies on the actors’ abilities to project pent up emotion.
This is well-done art-house fare from first time director Rama Burshtein.