Movie review: “Fill the Void” a stirring debut

By Columbus Alive
From the July 11, 2013 edition

Director Rama Burshtein’s debut film “Fill the Void” is a tender little indie film that transported me to a world far from my own without the benefit of a blockbuster budget.

Set among an ultra-Orthodox Jewish enclave in Tel-Aviv, “Void” focuses on 18-year-old Shira (Hadas Yaron). In a world where the pressure to marry is high — marriages aren’t quite arranged, but are certainly shepherded by parents and rabbis — she is engaged to a nice young man whom she barely knows.

But when her older sister Rachel dies, leaving behind her husband Yochay (Yiftach Klein) and an infant son, internal pressures start to build for Shira to marry Yochay.

“Void” is an often moving, occasionally confounding drama. Burshtein takes us deep in a community where religion and tradition permeate all decisions.

This singular focus can at times make the film feel like a period piece — which in turn can make it a challenge to relate to, though superb acting performances help.

Questions about modern gender roles are in the periphery, and Burshtein raises issues without stirring the waters too much.

Overall, “Void” is a lovely, if flawed, debut and a sign of great things to come.