Movie, Reviews

“The Woman’s Balcony” A Fun Comedy with Schmaltz

 

Schmaltzy but fun to watch, the movie The Women’s Balcony personifies a women’s protest to regain their honor. It’s more than just a film about who’s right or wrong, the film shows how people can compromise and come together over an issue. Filled with energy and chutzpah no man would dare turn a blind eye on this fight for woman’s rights.

It’s the day of Osher Yazdi’s Bar Mitzvah and everyone in town congregates at the Mussyof Synagogue. As customary the women go up to the balcony and the men hold the service at the downstairs altar. As the proceedings begin by Rabbi Aaron Rahamin the balcony’s floor caves in taking Rabbi’s wife with it and putting her in a coma.

The community (left-to-right; Yaffa (Yafit Asulin), Nissan (Herzl Tobey), Aharon (Itzik Cohen), Ora (Sharona Elimelech), Rahamim (Haim Zanati), Ettie (Evelin Hagoel), Margalit (Einat Sarouf) and Zion (Igal Naor) – walk through the Jerusalem streets to a bar mitzvah celebration.

Distraught over his wife’s condition, the Rabbi seeks seclusion in his home being despondent over the turn of events. Not wanting to delay services for the congregation, Zion (Igal Naor), Rabbi Aaron’s assistant, finds Rabbi David (Avraham Aviv Alush) who agrees to help. When he begins to instill changes by bringing back some old customs, a major change involving the renovation of the synagogue and a new bible scroll, the women lead by Zion’s wife Ettie (Evelin Hagoel) start to rebel.

Margalit (Einat Sarouf) speaks her mind as Rabbi David (Aviv Alush) and Aharon (Itzik Cohen) listen on.

So begins a fun filled situation comedy mixed with light drama that turns the little town upside down. Emil Ben Shimon chooses the right cast, molding them into the perfect characters to make his film work. He delivers some very lively scenes and adds a little romance involving Naftali a confidant of Rabbi David and Yaffa (Yafit Asulin) who is related to Ettie. It’s like a Romeo and Juliette side story.

Acting by the whole cast is to be commended, especially Igal Naor as Zion, Evelin Hagoel who plays Ettie and Avraham Aviv Alush who plays Rabbi David. The fun loving Zion assists Rabbi Aaron who has trouble remembering things. He add laughter to the film and meaning to family. Evelin Hagoel takes on the role of Ettie being the instigator for women’s rights. She’s the strong one in the group and works to keep all the women together on their quest for a new women’s balcony.

Rabbi David (Aviv Alush, center) joins the congregation for dinner.

As for Avraham Aviv Alush, his Rabbi David has to be the antagonist in the film and he nails the role. I like his demeanor as the staunch yet charismatic fundamentalist who only wants the best for the synagogue. When the women rebel against his decision regarding the new women’s balcony, the young Rabbi finds himself in a dilemma.

The Women’s Balcony has not been rated by the MPAA, but there’s no offensive material in the film. The movie plays out in Hebrew with English subtitles.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A fun way to look at the beliefs of the Israelis while showing their family unity.

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Einat Saruf, Igal Naor, Evelin Hagoel, Yafit Asulin, Avraham Aviv Alush, Orna Banai, Itzik Cohen, Herzl Tobey
Directed by: Emil Ben-Shimon
Genre: Comedy, Drama
MPAA Rating: Not Rated, no objectionable material
Foreign Film: Israel
Language: Hebrew (with English subtitles)
Running Time: 1 hr. 36 min.
Release Date: March 10, 2017
Distributed by: Menemsha Films

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Film Editor John Delia has been on all sides of the movie business from publications to film making. He has worked as a film critic with ACED Magazine for more than 10 years and earned a Bachelors degree in communications from the University of Florida. John is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association. Follow John on Twitter @staragent1 or send John a message at jdelia@acedmagazine.com

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