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In Jerusalem's orthodox neighborhoods, it's Succoth, seven days celebrating life's essentials in a sukkah, a temporary shack of both deprivation and hospitality. A devout couple, Moshe and Mali, married nearly five years and childless, are broke and praying for a miracle. Suddenly, miracles abound: a friend finds Moshe a sukkah he says is abandoned, Moshe is the beneficiary of local charitable fundraising, and two escaped convicts arrive on Moshe and Mali's doorstep in time to be their ushpizin - their guests. The miracles then become trials. Rabbinical advice, absolution, an effort to avoid anger, and a 1000-shekel citron figure in Moshe's dark night of the soul. Written by
Shuli Rand retired from acting after becoming religious. He returned to acting just to make this film. See more »
They worked out of luck, out of hope. And faith was all they had to hang on to. But on this holy week, where guests are considered a blessing, these two unexpected visitors bring with them: a secret from the past. A secret that would test their love and challenge their faith. Now only a miracle will turn their fortune around.
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It's quite hard for me to speak about this film without referring to the context of the delicate balance of relations between religious and non-religious people in Israel. This film is made mostly by religious people, and the whole story is told from the perspective of the deep believers. Jewish religious Jerusalem looks beautiful in this film, and it's no better moment to put it on screen than the festival of Succot. Still, the world and life of the religious people in Israel is much more complicated, and the problems they face are quite different, but this is not what this story is about.
What this is indeed about is about what does influence our lives. The main characters are a born-again Jew and his wife, living at the brink of their resources a life of devotion and religious studies. Many things happen to them in the few days before and during the holiday, and these can be explained as miracles dictated by God, or by circumstances of hazard. Of course, the characters are true believers, they speak to God, and know that God rewards them or punishes them for their deeds, but is not this the result of their imagination derived from their deep belief? The director makes for most of the film no comment and lets the viewers decide by themselves. Only by the end, in the last minutes he decides to become explicit, and this is a mistake in my opinion. The kind of Hollywood style ending adopted by this film is sometimes called 'Deus ex machina' and never was the name more appropriate.
Acting is wonderful, both of the religious people looking like characters descending directly from Bashevis Singer's books, as well as the non-religious ones, although their characters are closer to stereotypes. The film was originally made for TV, I believe, with a small budget, it still is true and sincere and funny in many moments. I am looking forward to see how it will be received by the North American audiences.
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