Tikkun: The nature of faith and desire
by Samuel Antichi
- Avishai Sivan's minimalist and enigmatic tale follows a Yeshiva student in Jerusalem struggling with the strict orthodoxy rites that have ruled his life
A young Orthodox student, Haim Aaron (Aharon Traitel), the eldest child of a kosher butcher (Khalifa Natour) and his wife (Riki Blich), lives in Jerusalem, and his talents and devotion are the envy of the entire Hasidic Jewish community, a branch of Judaism that promotes mysticism as the fundamental aspect of the faith. One evening, he collapses in the shower in the family apartment while he is contemplating masturbation, and a head injury makes him lose consciousness. After 40 minutes attempting to revive him, he is declared dead by the paramedics until his father intervenes, insisting on continuing CPR, and Haim Aaron miraculously comes back to life. However, after this apparent return from death, he is altered physically as well as spiritually. His behaviour becomes more eccentric, inasmuch as he remains apathetic to his Yeshiva studies, for which he force-fed his brain while starving his body, continually falling asleep during class. Furthermore, he announces at home that he has renounced eating meat, which is a particular affront to his father's job, and he starts to experience an unpredictable bodily awakening, exploring his sexual desires. Unable to rest at night, he secretly wanders the streets by hitching rides with strangers. After noticing Haim Aaron's change in behaviour, the father is tormented by the fear of having acted against God’s will by resuscitating his son.
Avishai Sivan's Tikkun won the Best Feature Film Award at the Jerusalem Film Festival and the Special Jury Prize at the Locarno International Film Festival. Consequently, this bizarre coming-of-age story within an ultraorthodox Jewish community has attracted intense interest from other festivals such as the Stockholm International Film Festival, where it is screening in the main competition section.
Shot with a strikingly sublime and sensitive high-contrast black-and-white aesthetic, this minimalist allegorical mystery about the capriciousness of the Old Testament explores the intimacy of men and their souls through a crisis of faith. The mysterious narrative elevates our vision to the search for spirituality where religion, self and sexual desire intersect. Its formal construction and the calm gaze of the fixed camera shots with little or no dialogue magnify the grey areas (both morally and logistically speaking) in which a formidable father, because of a spontaneous act of love for his son, may have destroyed the natural order of his world. This powerful depiction of a journey from devotion to doubt gives rise to a climactic series of surreal events amid a heavy nocturnal fog, where the will of God is concealed. A cinematic and philosophical examination of a nightmare that delves into the very nature of faith and explores the core of existence itself.