Haim-Aaron is an ultra-Orthodox religious scholar from Jerusalem whose talent and devotion are envied by all. One evening, following a self-imposed fast, he collapses and loses consciousness in the bathroom. The paramedics announce his death, but his father, refusing to let him go, takes over resuscitation efforts and, beyond all expectations, he comes back to life. After the accident, the scholar remains apathetic to his studies. He suddenly feels a strange awakening in his body and suspects that God is testing him. When his father notices these changes in his son's behavior, he tries to forgive him, tormented by the fear that he has crossed God's will when he resuscitated him.
Aharon Traitel's first feature film appearance. See more »
Fixing a father's act gone wrong
Avushai Sivan's 'Tikkun' (to set right) is a wondrous film, at times with a meaning out of sight. At its core, it is a morality tale, as much as it is a fascination with death. Straightaway, 'Tikkun' has the feel of a silent film, in its terse dialogue and richness of detail; in its black and white; in its shading of meaning. The story is set among the heredi or ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel, whose way of life, for us, we cannot immediately recognize nor understand in smallest forms of behavior, its accepted attitudes, its language. It doesn't evoke an emotional response at first. It is remarkable in that one of its principal character, the father of the protagonist Haim Aaron (Aharon Traitel), is a played by an Israeli Arab (Khalifa Natour), a shawkhet or butcher, authorized by Jewish law to slaughter animals by slitting the throat from ear to ear. From the very first scene, our eye is captured by the ritual slaughter of a cow, the jet of blood that splatters everywhere as the life flows out of the animal, its skinning and examination of its stomach for impurities, otherwise the carcass would be deemed not fit for consumption and thrown away. We enter the word of Hasidic Judaism with its strict laws of do and do not. For the showkhet serves the nourishment of the body, but Hasidism also serves the spirit of the mind in its emphasis on the importance of serving G-d joyously, cherished in intense mysticism, song and dance. And thus, Sivan sets up his conceit: the tension between the stomach and the mind, the body and the spirit, the father and the son. Haim Aaron, as a bookish student of Jewish law, through his intensive study of Talmudic law, written and oral traditions, has attained a heightened, personal understanding of rituals and practices. As such, he abstains from eating meat, which he considers as a lack of respect for the dead. More, he refrains from food and drink; he is an ascetic in his quest for spirituality. As such, his willed deprivation, an action undertaken at least in part out of a wish for transcendence. His health, in consequence, diminishes; he body fails him and he collapses in the shower (a symbol for ritual to regain purity), and dies. As a willed anorexic, he failed to respond to 40 minutes of CPR. His grieving father refuses to accept Haim Aaron's death. He vigorously applies the same emergency procedure, and suddenly, his son miraculously has a pulse. He has no medical signs of irreversible loss of brain function, nor of loss of motor skills. Hailed at the yeshiva as living proof of G-d's bounty and grace, he is, to all, 'normal'. And yet, his personality is altered. He doesn't sleep much; he wanders far and wide; he hitchhikes; he transgresses, in his state of exaggerated spiritually, the behavior say of riding with a woman, of visiting a brothel and of, out of curiosity, of fingering a side of beef, before throwing it away. His strange doesn't go unnoticed by the elders and grand rabbis. Convened to appear before them, he hears the formal judgment of his fate. Spoken by the oldest and most pious rabbi, in a wizened voice as though he were the Sybil of Greek myth, he is seen as cursed and thus expelled from the community. Haim Aaron more and more glides through his redeemed existence as if unconscious and controlled by someone else, yet brought back from the dead. of sorts. His conduct also puzzles his father, who, whilst in the water closet, is in the spray of his feces, finds himself in the presence of a crocodile head surging menacing out of the toilet. Among Hasidim, the reptile is emblematic of evil but here the shwakhet is warned that he has disobeyed the word of G-d. In his fright and desire to understand his son, he finds a small notebook in Haim Aaron's desk at the Yeshiva. In it, he reads the miniscule hand written critical commentaries of his son, as he went through his personal drama to shape his destiny; to claim his humanity though his reading of the law. In this sudden insight into the soul of his son, he understands the crocodile's ominous words. Out of his love for his firstborn, he has overstepped boundaries. As such, thrown into existential disorder, he sets his cattle free, out of his understanding perhaps of the sanctity of life? Haim Aaron is doomed. Sivan doesn't refrain from letting us know it: a rider-less horse appears here and there throughout the narrative, foretelling death, And death come for sure, but not with Haim: the woman who gave him a ride's car kills the horse, and she, in Aaron's agony turn, is killed in a foggy night. Finding her corpse, he rides up her exposed legs with his fingers. And he discovers her exposed vagina. Out of curiosity, he fingers it in the same way he did earlier the side of beef. Here, Sivan is mocking Corbet's 'Origin of the World'? Or is he distorting through vulgarity or sentimentality or romanticism exaggerated spirituality and respect of only nurturing the stomach or only the mind?
12 of 14 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this