When the older sister of Shira, an 18-year-old Hasidic Israeli, dies suddenly in childbirth, Shira must decide if she can and should marry her widowed brother-in-law, which also generates tensions within her extended family.
Past Life tracks the daring late 1970s odyssey of two sisters - an introverted classical musician and a rambunctious scandal sheet journalist - as they unravel a shocking wartime mystery that has cast a dark shadow on their entire lives.
Norman Oppenheimer is a small time operator who befriends a young politician at a low point in his life. Three years later, when the politician becomes an influential world leader, Norman's life dramatically changes for better and worse.
Debra Winger and Tracy Letts play a long-married, dispassionate couple who are both in the midst of serious affairs. But on the brink of calling it quits, a spark between them suddenly reignites, leading them into an impulsive romance.
Within Brooklyn's ultra-orthodox Jewish community, a widower battles for custody of his son. A tender drama performed entirely in Yiddish, the film intimately explores the nature of faith and the price of parenthood.
When Eyal finishes the week of mourning for his late son, his wife urges him to return to their routine but instead he gets high with a young neighbor and sets out to discover that there ... See full summary »
First off: writer/director Rama Burshtein is an Orthodox Israeli woman. This informs her work an her point of view and it's so incredibly distinct from almost anything else I've ever seen. For example, while The Wedding Plan was marketed as a rom com (the title even is more generic than the original, more philosophical Through the Wall) and the movie does contain both romance and comedy, it is also an incredible introspective, philosophical, religious film.
The film is about Michal, an unmarried Haredi Jewish woman in her early thirties living in Jerusalem. Now in orthodox communities, being in your early 30s and unwed is highly unusual, especially since from around the age of 18 young men and women are set up by their parents and matchmakers on dates, which are actually rather chaste in nature and immediately get to the point of whether the couple involved have enough in common to marry. Michal has been "dating" for 10 years. She goes to a fortune teller of sorts and she discusses why she wants to marry, the type of companionship she's looking for etc. Shortly after we see her at the tasting for her wedding dinner... which quickly goes south as her fiancé abruptly confesses he doesn't love her. Michal quickly drops him, but faced with the idea of another decade of marriage she decides to force God's hand. She rents the hall, continues with dress fittings, and leaves it up to God to provide a groom for her.
Burshtein approaches the issues in the film with a beautiful honest sincerity. But for all that, the film has some flaws. I could not help comparing it unfavourably in appearance to her beautiful debut film, Fill the Void. I was also unsatisfied with how some of the characters in the film were presented. A certain twist is broadcast from a million miles away and the questions and answers that some of the dates bring are oddly unsatisfactory. Overall though the film is certainly worth viewing, especially because the perspective is so unique and it is approached with such love, compassion and knowledge.
2 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?