‘Fill the Void,’ reviewed by Marshall Fine


“Fill the Void” is as interesting for the things it doesn’t do as for what it does.

Written and directed by Rama Burshtein and set in the Hasidic community of Tel Aviv, it’s a story about family and a sense of duty, informed by a devout faith. The faith itself doesn’t dictate the characters’ actions, yet it is the world in which they live.

At the center of the story is Shira (Hadas Yaron), who is 18 and being sized-up for a possible marital match by her mother Rivka (Irit Sheleg). Her older sister is married and expecting her first child and her best friend is eager to be married as well. Shira, however, seems both excited and ambivalent about the prospect, though it’s what’s expected.

But, in the midst of the family’s Purim celebration, Shira’s older sister goes into labor and dies during childbirth. Which leaves her husband, Yochay (Yiftach Klein), a widower with an infant.

Though Shira and her mother become Yochay’s go-to babysitters and caregivers for the child, Yochay also finds himself leaning toward remarriage, to have a wife to raise the child. The matchmaker grapevine begins to coalesce around a candidate – a widow with children of her own, who lives in Belgium.

That, however, is like a knife in Rivka’s heart: to lose her daughter and then to have her grandchild disappear to Europe. She believes she’s found a solution when she hits upon the idea of having Shira marry Yochay. There’s just one problem: Shira hopes to marry for love and, while she likes and admires her brother-in-law, she can’t imagine marrying him.

What makes the film stand apart is that, while set in a religious community, it never addresses its issues as a matter of dogma or doctrine.

This review continues on my website.

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