In the scramble to hail Israeli director, Rama Burshtein’s FILL THE VOID as a quiet and elegant success, a new look at the closed world of Charedi Judaism, a world of great “otherness”, and in particular the thorny issue of arranged marriage, I think critics are missing the point. This is a film about the abuse of a young woman by her parents, by her brother-in-law and by her community. Abuse by cumulatively forcing her into a corner where she believes she must marry her dead sister’s husband – she is confused, lovelorn even, but most of all compliant. This is all wrapped up in a truly chocolate-box view of the Charedi community. Everything is so poised and deliberate. (plodding even). I’m fine with quiet – lots of families are quiet, even Jewish ones but, as a traditionally (i.e. pick ‘n mix) observant Jew myself, who has lived in the Charedi community of Stamford Hill in North London for thirty years, my overriding impression is that they are a community who looks different and have very clearly defined expectations of social and religious behaviour, which can be extreme BUT (big but) when it all boils down to it, they face all the same issues as everyone, and repress and manipulate their emotions just like the rest of us messed up individuals. I think the whole concept of “other” is overused and misused. Other to me represents a different paradigm altogether, e.g. human versus the divine or science versus religion. I think FILL THE VOID misses the point by allowing all this otherness to be the story, while the baddies get away with it.
Also seen NEBRASKA this week. Bruce Dern is superb: distracted, lost, yet somehow completely all there. Just like my late Dad in fact. I was absorbed from start to finish.