With her first dramatic feature, writer-director Rama Burshtein offers us an unprecedented window into a young woman’s life in Tel Aviv's ultra-orthodox Hasidic community. Strict social codes, rabbinical decrees, and subtle signifiers govern the way all members interact—especially men and women. This is the universe of taciturn, 18-year-old Shira, whose cloistered life takes a dramatic turn when her sister suddenly dies, leaving behind a newborn and a bereaved husband.
As the camera gently probes Shira’s family’s intimate life, so, too, does it keenly observe her private evolution from innocence to self-awareness as she decides whether to take her sister’s husband as her own. The tension between Shira and her brother-in-law is palpable as their vulnerabilities stir under the surface of an emotional chess match neither is prepared for. Burshtein’s universal story of tortured love—told with enormous specificity, nuance, and depth—is transfixing.
Israel’s Foreign Oscar Submission, 2013
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