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Instead, the movie is a “window,” as Burshtein describes it, into a world where people have their difficulties but are not all questioning their religion or trying to leave their communities. “I’m not into criticism,” she told me. “I’m into complication.”
Yet “Fill the Void” doesn’t attempt to gloss over aspects of Judaism that viewers might find unsavory — including the intense pressure to marry, which produces the story in the first place. As Burshtein rightly claims, it’s a question not of being critical, but of telling a story; Orthodoxy here is the setting, not the subject. And when it comes to love and marriage, she argues, the film’s depiction isn’t much different from that experienced by everyone else, no matter their beliefs might be.
“But isn’t it more momentous?” I asked her, thinking of the youth and inexperience of most Orthodox newlyweds.
“Is it momentous for you as a secular person to find your true love, the love of your life?” Burshtein replied, leaning forward on the salmon-colored sofa.
“Because it’s the same,” she went on. “When you look at someone you meet and you feel that person’s the one…. That’s why people in the world like this film, I guess. Because it’s the same.”
Ezra Glinter is the deputy arts editor of the Forward. Follow him on Twitter @EzraG
Watch the trailer for ‘Fill the Void’: