May 18, 2014

Review: Kadosh (1999)

Kadosh is the kind of film that is destined to be criticized by it's home country, or at least by a certain portion of it. It has a pretty critical view on Orthodox Judaism which is made clear not minutes into it. Meïr (Yoram Hattab) recites a prayer when he wakes up and thanks God for nothing making him a woman. There are a few other instances where the female characters are put down and treated like second-rate citizens as well.

The director of Kadosh, Amos Gitai isn't that well liked in the Israel film scene. This isn't just because of the controversial themes that he covers though. He's seen as "too European" according to some critics but he does a fine job in Kadosh if you ask me. Dramatic scenes hit their marks without being melodramatic, the actors are all well reigned in and give good performances as well.


Genre: drama
Directed by: Amos Gitai
Produced by: Amos Gitai, Michel Propper, Shuki Friedman, etc.
Written by: Eliette Abecassis, Amos Gitai
Music by: Philippe Eidel, Louis Sclavis
Running time: 116 minutes
Production company: Agav Hafakot, MP Productions
Distributed by: Kino International, Mongrel Media, C-Films, etc.
Country: France, Israel
Language: Hebrew
Budget: N/A
Box office: $736,812 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Yaël Abecassis, Yoram Hattab, Meital Barda, Uri Klauzner, Yussuf Abu-Warda, Leah Koenig, Sami Huri, Rivka Michaeli, Samuel Calderon, Noa Dori, Shireen Kadivar



The story of Kadosh follows two interrelated stories. One is with Meïr and his wife Rivka and the other with Rivka's sister. Meïr and Rivka have been married for 10 years and love each other but sadly are without a single child. This gnaws at Meïr and he gets pressured by his father who is a rabbi to get another wife. Meanwhile, Rivka's sister Malka finds herself married to Yossef despite being in love with a man outside the faith.


As much as this movie criticizes the treatment of women in Orthodox society, you have to give them credit for how closely they adhere to their faith. It's pretty educative in that sense that you see the rituals the Haredi Jews follow. It's nuts seeing the sheer amount of rules they have to follow and how much debate goes into deciding if certain things are OK to do. Everything seems to be captured pretty accurately and I really appreciate the inside look into the religion.

The drama gets pretty heavy at times but doesn't go overboard. Enough to make you go "wow" but but not the point where it's milked. Both stories are nicely developed and neither one feels tacked on. It hardly even feels like two stories truth be told. Kadosh also has a nice score that accentuates important scenes nicely without being overbearing.

Kadosh is lightly educative and part commentary on the condition of women in Orthodox Judaism. I greatly appreciate the risks that Amos Gitai has taken as well as its actors in telling this story. There are some really heavy moments and will make you question how any woman would be OK being part of a society that treats them so.

All the same, the situations that are in Kadosh can't the the same case for every marriage in Haredi Judaism. This is still the kind of issue that is worth being explored and discussed. Everyone deserves to be their own person and clearly there is work to be done in the Haredi Jewish faith in this regard.



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