Critic's Pick: 'Fill the Void' an authentic look into a Jewish world

The Israeli film renaissance that began more than a decade ago with "Late Marriage" is nowhere near its end. The latest evidence: "Fill the Void," a transfixing, emotionally complex drama that won the Venice Film Festival's lead actress award for Hadas Yaron and captured seven Ophirs (the Israeli Academy Awards), including best picture and directing and screenplay honors for Rama Burshtein. Herself a member of the Haredi, the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in which "Fill the Void" is set, Burshtein has spent years making movies only for the women of her largely sexually segregated society. This story of the wrenching choice that 18-year-old Shira (Yaron) must make about whom to marry is the director's first film for the wider world, and it benefits greatly from the insider's authenticity — psychological as well as physical — that her status inevitably gives it. Yaron does such an exceptional job portraying Shira in all her various moods and situations that the woman she is at the conclusion is almost unrecognizable from the person we met at the outset.

— Kenneth Turan


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