Fill the Void
In the Hasidic community of Tel Aviv, Israel, an 18-year-old girl is pressured to marry the widowed husband of her sister who died during childbirth. This is writer-director Rama Burshtein's first feature, so it's no surprise that her intentions are hard to ascertain. Did she mean for the orthodox community she portrays to look like such a dreary, joyless place? Even weddings and kindergarten songs have an air of drudgery, as if participants are dispirited by some permanent misery. Maybe it's just poor filmmaking—blank-faced acting, leaden pace, gaping pauses that pad the running time until it feels much longer than its modest 90 minutes. The film won multiple awards in Israel, so it clearly plays differently there. Here, however, it's, frankly, dull; the characters uninteresting, the story lacking insight and drama.