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Avraham Aviv Alush,
Examining tensions between the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox
As "The Women's Balcony" (2016 release from Israel; 96 min.) opens, we see a group of people gathering at an Orthodox synagogue, to celebrate a Bar Mitzvah. The women participate from the synagogue's balcony, and the unthinkable happens: the balcony crashes, causing a major injury to the Rabbi's wife and causing the Rabbi to hole up in his house. The congregation needs an interim house of prayer and Rabbi. By happenstance, Rabbi David, an ultra-Orthodox, offers his services and the congregation eagerly accepts. However, it's not long before major tensions arise between Rabbi David and the synagogue's women. At this point we're 15 min. into the movie, but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: there have been quite a few movies that have examined the ultra-Orthodox communities, both here in the US and in Israel. However, this movie takes a different approach and examines the tensions between an Orthodox congregation and an ultra-Orthodox rabbi. However, it is done in a respectful way, and with the necessary wink and a smile. That said, I would not categorize this movie as a "comedy" as IMDb is doing. Once the movie's premise is fully made clear, it's a fairly predictable road from there to how it all plays out, but that didn't stop me from enjoying these characters. Israeli actor Aviv Alush brings his role as Rabbi David with authority. The photography (entirely in Jerusalem) is very pleasing tot the eye.
"The Women's Balcony" opened recently at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. The Sunday matinée screening where I saw this at was attended okay but not great. If you are in the mood for a decent foreign movie that looks at tensions between the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox, you could do worse than checking out "The Wedding Balcony", be it in the theater, on VOD or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray.
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