Review of "Fill the Void (DVD)"

published 04/09/2017 | thedevilinme
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"Two weddings and one funeral, Israeli style ...."

Fill the Void (DVD)

Fill the Void (DVD)

Genre – World cinema > Drama
Run Time – 90 minutes
Certificate – PG13
Country – Israel
Awards – 13 Wins & 16 Nominations
Amazon – £5.99 DVD £8.99 Blue Ray
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Marriage in the west, on the whole, is an act of love and union between two people who want to be together and don’t want anyone else to have their partner. Occasionally a young bird will marry some old fat bloke for his money to keep her in shoes but in general we marry someone like us. In other cultures and religions that may not be the case. The Muslims get the most stick for this arranged marriage thing with Jewish people getting the least stick for it. Your countries financial standing in the world seems to decide on that judgment. In some areas of the U.K. up to 50% or more of British Pakistani adults will marry their cousin, something completely alien to the west. A lot of these arranged marriages are about the amount of respect and cash these marriages bring the family of the groom through a dowry and elevates the families standing in the community. In some extreme cases in the more rural and backward areas of Muslim countries the fully grown adult males with be paired with a child, and mort than one. Eastern European Roma have so far escaped their role in child marriage but a big story rumbling towards us once the Pakistani child sex abuse cases have been rung dry by the Daily Mail and the like.

Fill The Void is a feature film explores marriage in a Hasidic Jewish community in Israel and the effects on that community when things happen with a current pairing or they need to marry off their sons and daughters to avoid any perceived shame. As per most religions the males are in charge and the girls have to do all the leg work and take the stick. We have seen in the U.K. that the government and media simply won’t criticize anything about the Jewish community here. Their schooling, religion and lifestyle can be just as divisive and suffocating on women’s lifestyles as Islam. There is a large Hassidic Jewish community in North London. Fill the Void explores those conflicts and tensions though the lives of an older man and a young girl of marrying age.


• Hadas Yaron as Shira Mendelman
• Chaim Sharir as Aharon Mendelman
• Ido Samuel as Yossi Mendelman
• Irit Sheleg as Rivka Mendelman
• Yiftach Klein as Yochay Goldberg
• Hila Feldman as Freida
• Razia Israeli as Aunt Hanna
• Renana Raz as Esther Goldberg
• Yael Tal as Shiffi
• Michael David Weigl as Shtreicher
• Neta Moran as Bilha
• Melech Thal as Rabbi


Virginal Shira Mendelman (Hadas Yaron), a pretty18-year-old Hasidic girl living in Tel Aviv with her respectable family, is looking forward to an arranged marriage with a young gauche man whom she likes, Shtreicher (Michael David Weigl). However, on the religious festival of Purim, her family suffers a tragedy when Shira's older sister Esther dies in childbirth. Not surprisingly Shira's father delays the engagement as they deal with the loss.

Esther's husband, Yochay Goldberg (Yiftach Klein), begins to regularly bring their son, Mordechai, to the Mendelman's house, where Shira cares for him. One day, Yochay's scheming but traditional mother probes Shira's mother, Rivka (Irit Sheleg), about the possibility of Yochay remarrying, believing it to be best for Mordechai but not too bothered about Shira. The current plan is an offer from a widow in Belgium to take care of the child. Rivka is extremely upset by the idea of Mordechai being taken out of the country and suggests that Yochay marry Shira instead.

After Shira and 31-year-old Yochay’s first meeting they initially oppose the prospect, though he eventually warms to it and she agrees to think about it on learning that her father has cooled on the idea of her marrying the Shtreicher after the delays. Frieda (Hila Feldman), a good friend of Esther who has never received any marriage proposals, tells Shira that Esther would have preferred that Yochay marry her in the event of her death. As a result, Shira tells Yochay that Frieda is more suitable, which he takes as an insult in their second meeting. The two remain distant and he announces that he plans to move with Mordechai to marry the widow in Belgium. Shira, now pressured by her family, appears to have decision to make that’s too big for her naive years and is getting to her, just how to keep everyone happy, accept herself. Looks like job for the rabbi (Melech Thal).


‘Fill The Void’ is a rather cold translation of the films original Israel title as director Rama Burshtein spent a year editing the movie so not to offend. He is treading a delicate line with an intense and proud culture and its methods in this particular branch of Judaism. Clearly these conservative traditions only survive because of the strict rules and pressures that surreptitiously suppress the incumbents and the director didn’t really want to go there. He is of the Hassidic community. That is left to the viewer’s interpretation. Burshtein achieves his goal as you don’t come out of this feeling too upset for Shira and co for going through these pressured marriage rituals.

The director’s wobbly camera style enhances the intimate intrusive nature of the film and you can’t help but feel for the kid. On line in the film where she tells the rabbi she wants to get married so not to upset anybody sums it up really. There are real moments of that intensity throughout with just a look from either actor expressing the sacrifice they have to take to sustain this community. I’m against organized religion in the modern world because it holds back people and women don’t get equal rights. That does not really come through here either. If you have to marry someone to preserve the male based religious hierarchy then you have to question that in film.

Hadas who plays Yaron had to lie to get out of her military duty to audition for the film and very good in the lead. Pretty much every adult who comes of age there has to do military service, and for good reason, the Islamic world pressing in on them from all sides. Why the world hates Jewish people so much is a head-scratcher and you can only put it down to how successful they are as a race and the fact they have the backbone to do what they need to do to thrive and survive out their in Israel. I for one personally admire that side of things.

It’s an intelligent intense film that will appeal to a very small audience. I only watched it as it was on Film 4. It’s not probing enough for me on the Hassidic way of lifestyle and so more of a hint of propaganda to it. We know there are abuses there and also there is link between this way of life and over-populating Israel to fill the West Bank. A lot of the men don’t work and just learn the tumult all day and subsidized by the Israeli government to have large families. That is the more interesting story for me and one that will probably not be made.

RATINGS – 6.7/10.0 (3,143votes) – 88% critic’s approval – 79% critic’s approval

Special Features


Daily Telegraph –‘Fill the Void is as well-versed in the rules of matchmaking as a Jane Austen novel, and it bends them as artfully as wicker’

Financial Times –‘Its last five minutes are so extraordinarily enigmatic, you're certain the subject of innocence, guilt and attraction has been addressed on a deep level.’.

The List –‘In the end, it's hard to determine whether Burshtein is celebrating or critiquing the insularity and strict traditions of the community that she herself joined in her 20s - but presumably that's part of the point’.

The Mail –‘A man and a woman, alone, on a path at night, forbidden to touch, speak, confront, and describe passion: the man moves closer. That's all. The smallest of moves, infinitesimal motion. The world tilts on its axis’.

Observer –‘An intelligent and moving examination of the possibilities of personal freedom within the strict confines of religion and tradition’.

The NY Times –‘With honesty and sensitivity, this Israeli drama takes us into an unfamiliar subcuture, letting us experience aspects of life in an Orthodox Jewish community that we've probably never even imagined before’.

Time Out –‘This is an extraordinary first film, nerve-tingling in its intensity, and assembled with finesse and control even the great Austrian director Michael Haneke might envy’.

Urban Cinefile –‘.Their funny hats and weird hairdos don't camouflage the recognizable human characteristics we readily understand. For me, that is the film's most enduring and most important message’.


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Comments on this review

  • elwood_jones published 02/10/2017
    very good review
  • mousy86 published 21/09/2017
    great x
  • CelticSoulSister published 08/09/2017
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Product Information : Fill the Void (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

Product Details

DVD Region: DVD

EAN: 5021866685304

Video Category: World Cinema Feature Film

Actor(s): Hadas Yaron, Yiftach Klein, Irit Sheleg

Classification: 15 years and over

Director(s): Rama Burshtein

Production Year: 2013


Listed on Ciao since: 01/09/2017