Fill the Void tells the story of a group of women within an Orthodox Jewish clan in modern day Tel Aviv. Haredi Judaism is a super conservative sect and I mention modern day because at first you think the story can be talking place years or decades ago. Attention is paid to ornaments of clothing and the style in which said garments are worn, as well as hairstyles.
The men aren’t sexist in the sense that they undermine their wives or daughters so much as Fill the Void depicts the parameters of their patriarchy. The men eat in separate rooms, they sing traditional songs and drink in unison. One guy is a sort of godfather because he doles out cash to those around the table that need support. The women have their own hierarchy. An aunt of the lead character has no arms and when her personal opinion has been heard and ignored she’s regulated to the side, sipping her drink with a straw. Director Rama Burshtein directs with a severity emphasized by stationary set-ups.
Shira, played by Hadas Yaron as a very proper young lady, grieves over the recent death of her older sister. Various relatives weigh in on whether she should marry her sister’s husband. Fill the Void will probably be one of the most unique films you’ll ever see. Such is the power of its nonjudgmental portrayal of its characters. The distributor Sony Pictures Classics also released the film Higher Ground (2011) that similarly revolved around issues of faith. Fill the Void opens in an exclusive engagement at River Oaks Three.
- Michael Bergeron