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Fill the Void (2013)



Average Rating: 7.4/10
Reviews Counted: 67
Fresh: 59 | Rotten: 8

Graceful, complex, and beautifully layered, Fill the Void offers a sympathetic portrait of an insulated culture by exploring universal themes.


Average Rating: 8/10
Critic Reviews: 23
Fresh: 21 | Rotten: 2

Graceful, complex, and beautifully layered, Fill the Void offers a sympathetic portrait of an insulated culture by exploring universal themes.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 3,912

My Rating

Movie Info

Eighteen-year-old Shira (Hada Yaron) is the youngest daughter of the family and is about to be married off to a very promising young man of the same age. On Purim, her twenty-eight-year-old sister, Esther (Renana Raz), dies during childbirth, leaving her husband to care for the child and postponing Shira's promised match. When the girls' mother finds out that Yochay may leave the country with her only grandchild, she proposes a match between Shira and the widower, which leaves Shira to choose


Art House & International, Drama

Rama Burshtein

Sep 24, 2013


Sony Pictures Classics - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (67) | Top Critics (23) | Fresh (59) | Rotten (8)

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

December 9, 2013 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Beautiful and mysterious, the[se] first glimpses are an ideal primer for the Israeli film, which never rushes to spell out the meanings of its subtle and quiet moments.

July 30, 2013 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's an artful, character-driven drama that constitutes a minor miracle of empathy.

July 11, 2013 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Burshtein creates a one-of-a-kind portrait that nonetheless transcends its setting, and even its worldview; the dynamics are global.

June 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Newsday
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Burshtein has achieved a gripping film without victims or villains, an ambiguous tragedy drawing on universal themes of love and loss, self-sacrifice and self-preservation.

June 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[Burshtein] vividly depicts a clannish culture that is likely to feel foreign and perhaps off-putting to generations that came of age in a progressive post-feminist era.

June 14, 2013 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Emotional issues an an insular world

May 23, 2014 Full Review Source: Movie Habit
Movie Habit

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

April 9, 2014 Full Review Source: Newcity
Newcity entertaining yet uneven debut from a promising new filmmaker...

February 28, 2014 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

As opposed to the bleak view of sexual subjugation in Kadosh, Amos Gitai's 1999 film about Hasidic marriage, Fill the Void sees Burshtein fortrightly and wittily asserting that this is how her community lives.

February 6, 2014 Full Review Source: Sight and Sound
Sight and Sound

A rare and illuminating glimpse of contemporary Hasidic life against the backdrop of ritual, Purim, marriage, and death.

February 4, 2014 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Few films in recent memory better capture the heartbreak of loss, the agony of indecision or the burden of familial duty.

December 19, 2013 Full Review Source: Concrete Playground
Concrete Playground

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

December 16, 2013 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

There is perhaps something ultimately undeveloped about it, but the film is a well acted, well presented piece of work.

December 12, 2013 Full Review Source: Guardian

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.

December 12, 2013 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

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.

December 12, 2013 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

A fascinating and emotionally gripping drama with a sharply written, understated script and a pair of terrific performances from Hadas Yaron and Yiftach Klein.

December 12, 2013 Full Review Source: ViewLondon

A nuanced kitchen-sink depiction of an Israeli Hassidic community which zeroes in on the dilemma of an 18-year-old girl named Shira.

December 12, 2013 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

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.

December 12, 2013 Full Review Source:

A warm, watchful slant on marital mores in an ultraorthodox Jewish community.

December 9, 2013 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

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.

December 9, 2013 Full Review Source: The List
The List

Although it lacks a little of the emotional heft of Haifaa al-Mansour's work, it's a well acted and delicately told tale.

December 9, 2013 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

..heir funny hats and weird hairdos don't camouflage the recognisable human characteristics we readily understand. For me, that is the film's most enduring and most important message

November 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Eventually reveals itself to be a sort of Jane Austen romance -- a tale of matchmaking and marriage motivated by the ritual and decorum of Haredi Judaism in modern Tel Aviv rather than by the social strictures of 19th-century England.

August 30, 2013 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Burshstein has managed a small miracle with his gentle film ... . A movie about matters of faith that manages to be neither condescending nor smug ... a surprisingly accessible and satisfying experience.

August 16, 2013 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Audience Reviews for Fill the Void

Yet another culture that I do NOT get. Poor, poor girl. This is a roughly made Hebrew film. Interesting to watch. Kind of slow...
February 17, 2014

Super Reviewer

I feel that the film is definitely worth watching although some of the scenes and the ending seem to be end at the wrong moment; when you really want to find out what a characters says next or what he/she does. I suppose these could be only minor flaws in an otherwise fantastic film, but these details did make it anticlimactic for me. Perhaps this brings a welcomed ambiguity that is lacking so often in many films. Despite this, I cannot deny the emotional charge with which the leads bring to their performance. I keeps you captivated.
February 10, 2014

Super Reviewer

In "Fill the Void," Esther(Renana Raz) and Yochay(Yiftach Klein) are on the verge of expecting their first child when they also receive the happy news that Esther's younger sister Shira(Hadas Yaron) has just gotten engaged. And then tragedy strikes as Esther dies in childbirth. In the meantime, Shira and her mother Rivka(Irit Sheleg) help out best they can by taking care of the baby. However, that might not be for much longer as Rivka hears about a marriage proposal for Yochay from a widow in Belgium.

"Fill the Void" is a gently subversive movie about the practice of arranged marriages in the Hasidic community in Israel that succeeds by leaving more things unsaid from its great opening scene in a supermarket to its ambiguous final shot. To be fair, it could be said that the parents only have the best interests of their children at heart but what happens when they don't? For example, Rivka does the wrong thing for the right reasons while Shira does the right thing for the wrong reasons. None of which will matter if everybody is not happy in the long run.
July 7, 2013
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

The film works for two reasons. The first is that its a mostly engaging family drama, and the second is that its an interesting introduction to the complex world of Orthodox Judaism without ever feeling like a lesson that's being forced on the audience.
September 26, 2013
Alec Barniskis

Super Reviewer

    1. Shira: If I forget thee oh Jerusalem let my right hand lose it's skill.
    – Submitted by Frances H (7 months ago)
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