The Secrets | Chicago Reader

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120 minutes

An ambitious mix of mysticism, melodrama, and lesbian romance, this 2007 Israeli feature is set in the atmospheric city of Safed, a revered site for the Jewish practice of kabbalah. Mourning the death of her mother, the serious intellectual daughter (Ania Bukstein) of an Orthodox rabbi persuades him to postpone her arranged marriage to his star pupil so that she may study at a women's religious academy. At school she and a free-spirited roommate (Michal Shtamler) make charity visits to a dying French expatriate (Fanny Ardant), whose revelations of a scandalous past dovetail with the young womenâ??s growing attraction. Director Avi Nesher avoids prurience in the sex scenes, which are of a piece with many coming-out stories; the movie is most provocative when it addresses the self-realization of women in a rigidly patriarchal community. In Hebrew and French with subtitles.

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