Fill the Void


Generally favorable reviews - based on 23 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 23
  2. Negative: 0 out of 23

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    May 23, 2013
    What the film makes clear, with unfailing sensitivity and wry humor, is that for Shira and her family the ordinary arrangements of living are freighted with moral and spiritual significance.
  2. Reviewed by: Diana Clarke
    May 21, 2013
    Burshtein's lush visual sensibility, and the subtle performances of the excellent cast, create an aching portrayal of longing and interdependence that transcends the boundaries of the family's small world.
  3. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    May 31, 2013
    Implicit in this film is a simple truth: The sheer force of artistry has the power to convert outsiders into insiders. I left Fill the Void feeling privileged, however briefly, to have been brought into this world.
  4. Reviewed by: A.A. Dowd
    May 22, 2013
    Burshtein shoots in extreme shallow focus, framing her actors against a sometimes-blinding blanket of white fuzz. It’s a decision that, coupled with Yitzhak Azulay’s stirring, chant-driven score, lends each conversation a near religious aura.
  5. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    May 23, 2013
    A transfixing, emotionally complex Israeli drama.
  6. Reviewed by: Peter Keough
    Jun 21, 2013
    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.
  7. Reviewed by: Nell Minow
    Jun 20, 2013
    A sympathetic, lay­­ered portrayal, rich with detail, that earns its more complex and resonant conclusion.
  8. Reviewed by: Stephanie Merry
    Jun 14, 2013
    The movie confounds at times with its aversion to clearly explaining each relationship and ritual, but ultimately that makes each realization seem more like a new discovery.
  9. Reviewed by: Carrie Rickey
    Jun 14, 2013
    Burshtein keeps the camera tight on the faces of her actors in a way that succeeds at making visible the invisible heat between the characters. The film's chaste eroticism and the community's deep respect for Shira's emotional and spiritual growth keep the audience in thrall.
  10. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    May 23, 2013
    Burshtein refuses to engage with the culture wars that flare fiercely between secular and religious types in Israel; in fact she's trying to avoid types of any kind, which may be why secular audiences and critics have embraced her rapturous depiction of a community living its life, more separate from than at odds with the society beyond.
  11. Reviewed by: Robbie Collin
    Dec 12, 2013
    Fill the Void is a real collector’s item: a film in which the forces of religion and tradition are shown to be working together, however haltingly and imperfectly, for the good.
  12. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    May 21, 2013
    The film isn’t exactly rousing in its conclusion, but it’s always respectful: a serious ethical inquiry into matters of women’s choice, both imposed and seized upon. Check it out.
  13. 75
    Fill the Void’s greatest virtue is in the ways her characters take us beyond stereotypes even as she herself questions the value system of a culture that is so focused on religion, marriage and procreation that it holds few attractions to those not born into it.
  14. Reviewed by: Susan Wloszczyna
    Jun 14, 2013
    Its ending leaves the door open for interpretation and post-viewing discussion — just as the best sort of movie-going experiences often do.
  15. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Jun 13, 2013
    An elegant miniature, Rama Burshtein's Fill the Void labors under a narrative inevitability, but it's artful work nonetheless.
  16. Reviewed by: Andrew Schenker
    May 17, 2013
    The film unfolds in unhurried dramatic terms that come to take on an almost fatalistic force.
  17. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Jul 17, 2013
    Fill the Void is almost more like an ethnographic film than a fictional narrative in regard to our rare observational perspective. Yet Shira also shares attitudes in common with Jane Austen heroines, whose worlds are dominated by their marital prospects and domestic matters.
  18. Reviewed by: Jordan Hoffman
    May 27, 2013
    Fill the Void is, in the worst sense of the word, a “women’s picture,” in which people wring their hands and worry, wail and weep over marriage and maintaining the status quo.
  19. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    Dec 12, 2013
    The story unfolds intriguingly within an intimate, almost claustrophobic environment. There is perhaps something ultimately undeveloped about it, but the film is a well acted, well presented piece of work.
  20. Reviewed by: Kevin Harley
    Dec 9, 2013
    The resulting pickle may seem alien to many, but Yaron’s navigation of Shira’s struggles make it tangible.
  21. Reviewed by: Angie Errigo
    Dec 9, 2013
    Like Saudi Arabia's "Wadjda," Burshtein's film is a groundbreaking first - the first Israeli film to be directed by a woman - and although it lacks a little of the emotional heft of Haifaa al-Mansour's work, it's a well acted and delicately told tale.
  22. Reviewed by: Farran Smith Nehme
    May 23, 2013
    Trouble is, while the social milieu is nicely realized, other parts of the drama are not. Too often Burshtein cuts off a scene prematurely, darting away just as the crucial moment of emotion or confrontation appears.
  23. Reviewed by: Oliver Lyttelton
    May 21, 2013
    Burshtein has devoted most of the last 20 years teaching and making film in that world, but here makes her international feature debut with a curious comedy-drama that has its strengths, but ultimately proves somewhat disappointing.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 15 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 1 out of 3
  1. Dec 9, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. There's too much going on underneath the surface for me to enjoy this movie. A Man marries not knowing his wife was mentally ill. Girl engaged can't even tell if her betrothed is happy or not. .Girl ashamed because she has not been selected for marriage. .ok enough this is way too subdued, too mechanical, too subjugated, too much of too little. It is a tragic movie do not compare this at all to Pride and Prejudice. That at least can be understood as it is a period movie. This to me is the equivalent of bringing back slavery and agreeing that it is ok- it is revolting. Impossible to love even if one overlooks the indenture the laws of this patriarchal community imposes on women and men. Sorry but I can not overlook everything that was not addressed in this movie. It was painful to watch. Full Review »
  2. Jun 8, 2013
    This is a high quality drama about life, death, family and tradition. Not a single note is phony here. The attention to details isThis is a high quality drama about life, death, family and tradition. Not a single note is phony here. The attention to details is exceptional. The movie is slow but emotionally charged. A bit too much of ceremonial rituals to my liking. Overall, the movie is Oscar caliber. Full Review »
  3. May 27, 2013
    Refreshingly emotionally involving, this is not at all your typical Hollywood movie. Eschewing dependence on action, this film seeks toRefreshingly emotionally involving, this is not at all your typical Hollywood movie. Eschewing dependence on action, this film seeks to explore the world of Haredim in Jerusalem. Many non-Jews may miss cues and actions which may seem confusing or questionable to the outside world (but are understood by Orthodox Jews). Nevertheless, the way the Burshtein draws you into the characters' world strongly enables one to feel the tensions through which they go through. Very rewarding. Full Review »