This debut feature by an Orthodox Jewish American filmmaker offers a sympathetic, yet still nuanced, take on the plight of an Israeli teenager trying to square her emotional needs with duty to faith and family. Shira (Hadas Yaron, mesmerising) has always looked up to her big sister, who’s married to a Rabbi and due to give birth to the couple’s first child – until tragedy strikes and impacts unexpectedly on Shira’s future choices. Suddenly, she’s pressured to marry, and though determined to remain her own woman, she’s culturally ill-equipped to understand her swirling emotions and desires.
Rama Burshtein’s film offers an insider’s view on all this. It’s intimate, authentic and immersive, though the fact it’s so accepting of the institution of marriage and the clerical priorities of Orthodox life may not sit well with all viewers. That said, this is an extraordinary first film, nerve-tingling in its intensity, and assembled with a finesse and control even the great Austrian director Michael Haneke might envy.