Fill the Void

2013

Fill the Void

Critics Consensus

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

89%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 72

69%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,117
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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 between her heart's wish and her family's wish to keep the child with them. FILL THE VOID was the 2012 Venice Film Festival winner for Best Actress (Yaron), and has been selected as the Israeli entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards. It will also be featured in the Spotlight Program at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. (c) Sony Classics

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Critic Reviews for Fill the Void

All Critics (72) | Top Critics (24)

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

    Dec 12, 2013 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • A nuanced kitchen-sink depiction of an Israeli Hassidic community which zeroes in on the dilemma of an 18-year-old girl named Shira.

    Dec 12, 2013 | Rating: 3/5
  • 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.

    Dec 9, 2013 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jul 30, 2013 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • It's an artful, character-driven drama that constitutes a minor miracle of empathy.

    Jul 11, 2013 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Burshtein creates a one-of-a-kind portrait that nonetheless transcends its setting, and even its worldview; the dynamics are global.

    Jun 20, 2013 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

    John Anderson

    Newsday
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Fill the Void

  • Jun 26, 2015
    Israeli powerhouse Rama Burshtein is the first female Orthodox Jewish director to make a film outside of the community, for wider distribution. She wrote and directed "Fill the Void," a film about the marital prospects of Shira, who realizes she wants to marry her sister's widower. Read more at http://www.bluefairyblog.com/reviews/2015/5/22/fill-the-void
    Spencer S Super Reviewer
  • Feb 10, 2014
    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.
    Wildaly M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 14, 2013
    Yet another culture that I do NOT get. Poor, poor girl. This is a roughly made Hebrew film. Interesting to watch. Kind of slow...
    Cynthia S Super Reviewer
  • Oct 06, 2013
    Certainly this film has good intentions. Rama Burshtein's reason for making this movie was to show the misconceptions about arranged marriages in orthodox Jewish communities. For one, I did not know that the woman made the decision as to whom she gets to marry. That's certainly something new. But, at the same time, it's not exactly a favorable portrayal of arranged marriages either because the woman has absolutely no freedom to do as she pleases and to marry whomever she wants to marry after a period of courting. Basically, the way the arranged marriages work in this film, it's almost like a contract and the woman is used as a bargaining chip. So while the movie certainly sheds some misconceptions about arranged marriages, it also brings up other issues about the freedom these women have to live their lives as they wish. And I understand it's completely different culture and I'm in the outside looking in. But from looking at a character like Frieda, a similar metaphor would be being picked last for a team sport, she's the oldest one in her family and no one has made an offer to marry her. Understandably, this very obviously affects her emotionally as she feels that she isn't worth marrying, for whatever reason that may be. And I think that's a problem as these women are nothing more than negotiating tactics. And I don't mean to shit on an entire culture, that's just how it looks to someone who's not living in that bubble. But I did think this film was really good as it doesn't easily provide easy answers to the questions it raises. Basically the movie deals with Shira struggling to make a decision about whether or not to marry her sister's widower, as he has decided he's moving to Belgium and taking his son with him. Shira's mother was devastated by the death of Esther and she wouldn't be able to handle Yochay leaving with her grandson, so she proposes that Shira and Yochay get married. Right off the bat you have someone who's only proposing this for purely selfish reasons. It's understandable that Rivka, the mother, wouldn't want for her grandson to be taken away, especially after the death of her daughter, but she's putting her own daughter's life and happiness at risk by pressuring her to marry him. It's a well-written character. Really, all the characters in the film are well-written, because their motivations are complex and not so black and white as things are in most movies. Shira struggles with the fact of whether to do this for her family, basically sacrificing spending years together with a man she does not like, in order to giver her family, read: her mother, a couple of years of happiness with their grandson. I got the impression that Shira only did this for her family, as I don't think that, for one, second she was ever truly interested in Yochay and she sacrificed her own happiness for that of her family. Yochay also has complex motivations, he only wants for his son to have a mother, perhaps because of the culture he was raised in. Even if that means also being with someone he isn't particularly interested in. I liked this movie because it chose to tell its story in a more subtle and nuanced manner. This is an example of a movie where less is more. And the movie is stronger because of that, it's layered and complex. Understandably, some people may not have the patience to sit through this movie because of the way it is filmed and edited together, the movie gives off the appearance of not saying much. But it does have a lot to say about self-sacrifice, loss, importance of family, and other themes. This is a very good film, with some excellent acting and writing. It might not be for everybody, but it's a damn good movie.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer

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