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A Review of A Quiet Heart (Israel) to be shown at the Wpg International Jewish Film Festival - A captivating mystery-thriller

April 26, 2018

Reviewed by Jane Enkin


Ania Bukstein plays Naomi, a classical pianist who walks away from her career to find peace of mind in Jerusalem. She rejects her parents' frantic attempts to get her to come home to Tel Aviv. Her father challenges her, “You're a pianist. Who are you without a piano?” In spite of her desire to be alone, sullen and beautiful Naomi makes connections with people in the city. And in spite of her determination to stay away from music, she meets two musicians who influence her life, a young Haredi (Ultra Orthodox) boy who is a brilliant piano student, and a monk who plays the pipe organ. With them, Naomi rediscovers music for its own sake, without the perfectionism of concert performance.


What begins as a moody, dream-like character study, builds into a disturbing mystery film. Secular Israeli Naomi has moved into an Ultra Orthodox neighbourhood because rents are cheap, and although one woman in the building is welcoming, there are people in the neighbourhood who want her out. An activist who is trying to keep the area mixed rather than exclusively Haredi tells her, “There's a war on.”


As the pressure on Naomi builds, you may find yourself wanting to shout at her, “Get out of the apartment, already!” like you do at a horror film. She stays, and events become more disturbing, as writer-director Eitan Anner builds the darkness and tension. The neighbour offers her a new mezuzah as protection. The activist drops Naomi when she finds out about her visits with the monk, explaining that some members of the activist group are Masorti (more or less traditional) and would not tolerate this connection.


The divides between secular, Masorti and Haredim are substantial, in the news as well as in Israeli art like this film. The multiple meanings of modern Hebrew, based as it is in Biblical Hebrew, can illuminate this tension. A parking attendant who gives Naomi a daily ticket says, “Here people follow the law.” The word he uses for law is "chok", which is a word for Torah law in the Bible.




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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.