The Secrets

3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

What kind of film is The Secrets? A screed about religious repression? A tragedy about coming to terms with death? A love story? Two Kabbalah students in Israel—overweeningly serious Naomi (Bukstein), free-spirited and French Michelle (Shtamler)—are assigned to provide assistance to a cancer patient (Ardant), who, like Kristin Scott Thomas in I’ve Loved You So Long, has served time for a murder that may or may not have been committed under mitigating circumstances. Was it a crime of passion? (And is she even Jewish?) They take her to the mikva (ritual bath) in a scene played for unexpected eroticism, and before long the movie’s muse becomes less rabbinic than sapphic.

The two leads’ performances keep the movie on edge, but The Secrets, however absorbing, has few secrets worth keeping. Even the tolerance message—much of Orthodox Judaism disdains scholarship among women—is blunt to the point of disinterest. (Naomi’s betrothed never says a kind word, ever.) Unlike 2003’s crude but gripping Mendy: A Question of Faith, The Secrets never builds to a howl of anguish. A lot of ominous portent plays out in service of not very much, and The Secrets leaves you with little other than a pronounced sense of mishegoss.

By: Ben Kenigsberg



Release details

Cast and crew

Avi Nesher
Avi Nesher, Hadar Galron
Fanny Ardant
Ania Bukstein
Michal Shtamler
Adir Miller
Guri Alfi
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