Secrets, The (DVD Review)30 Mar, 2009 By: Angelique Flores
Box Office $0.09 million
Rated ‘R’ for some nudity, sexuality and brief language.
Stars Fanny Ardant, Ania Bukstein, Michal Shtamler.
The Secrets is a marvelous film with layers of raw emotion and revelations unraveling until the very end.
Naomi (Ania Bukstein) is a young orthodox Jewish woman in Israel who has just lost her mother. She’s engaged to a traditional (some might say chauvinistic) Jewish man who studies with her rabbi father. Naomi, preferring religious studies over becoming a housewife and mother, postpones her marriage while she mourns her mother’s passing.
She heads to a women’s seminary in Safed, Israel, for religious study. There, she meets her polar opposite: the rebellious Michelle (newcomer Michal Shtamler). The two are tasked with bringing food to a French woman, Anouk, who is ill with cancer and a heart condition and who had served a prison sentence years prior for killing her lover.
Anouk, played by veteran French actress Fanny Ardant, asks the young women to teach her “the secrets” of their religion to help wash away her sins.
As Naomi and Michelle explore their religion and its traditions, they develop a relationship much closer and stronger than expected. During the film, they gradually transform from youthful young ladies trying to figure out what they want out of life into strong women who obtain it.
The three women give passionate, affecting performances. And the supporting cast is just as electric.
The Secrets contains delightfully simplistic yet at the same time complex plot lines, weaving intense elements of love, sexuality, relationships, spirituality and feminism. The film also is a beautiful portrayal of the Jewish religion and culture, well-done by acclaimed Israeli director and co-writer Avi Nesher (The Troupe, Doppelganger, Timebomb).
Among the extras are music videos featuring two Israeli female artists as well as behind-the-scenes footage with interesting cast and crew interviews that tell more about Nesher and the actors and their accomplishments in the Israeli movie scene.
Most of the deleted scenes are worth watching, as they give more color to the characters and details to the plot. I would guess they were cut only for time.