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Paris P. Pickard,
Anthony Michael Jones
In The Secrets, two brilliant young women discover their own voices in a repressive orthodox culture where females are forbidden to sing, let alone speak out. Naomi, the studious, devoutly religious daughter of a prominent rabbi, convinces her father to postpone her marriage for a year so that she might study at a Jewish seminary for women in the ancient Kabalistic seat of Safed. Naomi's quest for individuality takes a defiant turn when she befriends Michelle, a free-spirited and equally headstrong fellow student. When the pair encounters a mysterious, ailing foreigner with a disturbing past named Anouk (the iconic French actress Fanny Ardant) they begin a risky journey into forbidden realms. In the hopes of easing her suffering, Naomi and Michelle secretly lead Anouk through a series of Kabalistic cleansing rituals. The process opens up overwhelming new horizons for the girls who find themselves caught between the rigid male establishment they grew up in, and the desire to be true to... Written by
"Secrets" is a film about everything. Just when you think you know what the main theme of the film is, it shifts direction subtly. I think you have to know at least one person who is like a character in this film to find it believable, or you possibly might just be interested in unfamiliar cultures. Practically every event in this film could not possibly happen in the US, but the movie is not a fantasy.
What are the secrets that the viewer gradually comes to understand? They are things people don't tell other people. They are things that people don't know about themselves. They are a culture's basic assumptions that normally go unquestioned. They are ancient Jewish mystical practices that are not supposed to be talked about. They are insights into biblical writings that were never uncovered before. They are little twists of language, like how many M's are in a sentence. They are what happens to people when they face death.
And the secrets of what makes this an amazing film? They are the uniformly great performances, the cinematography that lovingly caresses the city of Sfat (or Zefat, as the Israel road signs say), the beautiful and moving music, and the the questions that haunt the viewer emotionally and intellectually afterward.
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