Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Fanny Ardant, Ania Bukstein, Michal Shtamler, Adir Miller
Director: Avi Nesher
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Naomi, the brilliant and pious daughter of an ultra orthodox rabbi finds herself at a crossroads of life choices when her mother dies and she is expected to immediately marry her father's prodigy. Distressed yet determined... more »
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Feminisn and Sexuality in Judaism
Amos Lassen | Little Rock, Arkansas | 01/27/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
Feminism and Sexuality in Judaism
"The Secrets" is a new Israeli film that looks at both sexuality and feminism in classic Judaism. Naomi, the headstrong daughter of a highly respected Orthodox rabbi, is promised to her father's prized pupil. She neither feels anything for him nor is enthusiastic at the idea of marrying him and she convinces her father to let her go to Safed, one of the four holy cities in Israel and the birthplace of the Kabala, a form of mystical Judaism. She wants to study at a seminary for Jewish women.
While in Safed, she meets Michelle, the daughter of a wealthy secular family now living in France. Her parents have sent her to Israel to re-awaken her faith and to find a Jewish husband. The two women forge a close bond. Once while delivering meals to the poor, they meet Anouk, a non-Jewish foreigner who is dying and has come to Safed to seek divine forgiveness but because of her religion she is alienated by both villagers and religious leaders.
Naomi and Michelle's compassion soon has them engaging their roommates in an attempt to save Anouk from her past through what is known as "tikun" (repair), a series of rigorous, religious cleansing rituals. As the two share the journey to help the dying Anouk, they find long suppressed feelings of love and passion arising from within and these feelings have no place in Orthodox Jewish life.
Both women are forced into making a choice as to whether to conform to what their families, society and religion expect or to remain true to themselves.
"The Secrets" is poignant and touching. The beautiful acting and the brilliant haunting soundtrack of liturgical music make this an incredible viewing experience. The film takes us into a world that is rarely seen in cinema.
Good film with a bummer of an ending
K. E. Fox | Austin, Texas | 05/18/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this film based on supposed lesbian relationship discussed in the teaser. As I watched this well crafted and acted film, I was swept away by the intense storyline of a young woman pursuing her dream to become a rabbi, despite the misogynistic culture/religion of Orthodox Judaism. I also enjoyed the storyline of the two young women in a feminist seminary trying to give peace to an older woman who was dying of cancer, and had been rejected by the town. However, what really killed this movie for me was the very unhappy ending of the two female leads, who were supposedly in love. I have literally seen dozens of films and tv shows where two women who are in love can never lively happily ever after at the end of the show and this film fit that bitter and homophobic cliche to a 'T.' The romance between the two women might not have been important to anyone else but it was very important to me. I cried at the end of this movie because I was so bitterly disappointed."
An emotionally stirring tale, highly recommended
Midwest Book Review | Oregon, WI USA | 04/13/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Secrets: A Film by Avi Nesher is a multiple award-winning movie about Naomi, the intelligent, faithful, and devoted daughter of an orthodox rabbi who must prepare for difficult choices in her life when her mother dies and she has to marry her father's prodigy. She begs her father for a year to study at a women's religious seminary to prepare for the sacrifices she must make as a wife and mother, and is permitted to do so. She befriends a schoolmate, Michelle, and a sickly older woman, Anouk (played by Fanny Ardant), who might be guilty of a terrible crime of passion. Naomi invents a progression of rituals designed to help Anouk release her sins, a process which brings Naomi and Michelle closer together - close enough to develop a forbidden attraction. An emotionally stirring tale, highly recommended. Special features include a "behind the scenes" video with subtitled actor interviews, deleted scenes, two music videos, and a photo gallery. Rated R, 127 minutes, Hebrew with English subtitles.
Extraordinary - One of the Best to Come from Israel
Gerard D. Launay | Berkeley, California | 05/26/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Call it an acquired taste. First of all I am Jewish and I have spent a considerable amount of time studying its religious texts...Thus a film about the process of analyzing scripture or the Talmud is likely to find favor in my eyes whereas others might gravitate towards science fiction or romantic comedy.
I thought "The Secrets" was one of the best dramas to arrive from Israel...but it is not in the mold of a holocaust memory film, a war film, or an exploration of ethnic tensions.
The movie is about personal choices, moral choices, partner choices. Ostensibly it revolves around a story of Noemi, a very bright young woman - a daughter of an important rabbi in the Orthodox community - who asks to study for one more year rather than rush into a marriage dictated by her father,
She first approaches problems as a "know-it-all", and then discovers that others have answers, even to tough religious and moral questions. Through that process, she develops a deep, let's say, intimate relationship with another young woman, Michal, in the Orthodox seminary. But this movie is not really about a same-sex relationship as it it about making choices...some of those choices carry great personal baggage and some of those choices are entirely unorthodox.
All the performances are top notch. Two scenes stick out in my mind. In the first, Noemi is deep in the library analying the Talmud to find a way to help a troubled, mortally sick stranger repair her broken relationship to God. She does so even when the traditional rabbis have all but given up on the stranger. The second scene involves the prospective groom of Michal - a pharmacist who moonlights as a klezmer musician - who reveals great courage (and tolerance) in asking Noemi to come to his upcoming wedding. When he makes that request he knows that Noemi has been intimate with his bride. (How many us, religious or not, orthodox or not, could do that!)
A final remark. Unlike some of the other reviewers, I don't experience the ending of the film as negative. Just the opposite. In summary, "The Secrets" is not only an excellent movie, it is a meaningful one."