I watched the first 60 mins of a film starring Rachel Weiz and Rachel McAdams portraying a romance which went against the expectations of the Jewish culture.
It is interesting that if you notice that the film highlights a number of issues including:
Women’s Mental Health – The main character Esty is perceived by her community to have mental health problems so she is encouraged to marry one of the best male students in the Jewish community. The marriage is viewed as the solution to Esty’s problems, although Esty admits in the film only to be romantically attracted to women.
Consent in relationships – The elders in the Jewish community assume that Esty’s lesbian relationship is something Weiz’s character has forced or bullied her into. During the film there is a conversation about the expectation within Esty’s marriage that she has sex once a week with him (and doesn’t have a huge say in this matter) . She says, ‘I’m not hurt if I say no, but its expected whether I want to or not’.
The male in the film tries to understand his wife, and to obey the pressure of the elders in the community to keep his house in order (including his wife). He is being offered a key position within the leadership of the Jewish community in the vicinity and there is much expected of him.
If you don’t want to know how the film ends spolier alert*****
The next generation of children or women – Esty is a teacher and says she loves the opportunity teaching gives the to inspire girls in her class. Weiz’s character criticises Esty for being the example of what she’s expected to be and not being true to herself. Weiz concludes that Esty can’t be making a great impression on the young students seeing as Esty is dependent on the Jewish community to meet her needs and doesn’t have freedom of choice.
There is a power struggle including the conclusion financial assets which could represent freedom for the women.
Should we say that mostly that Judaism is represented sourly? The men studying the Korah texts do so very intently, although sometimes there seems to be a lack of thought given emotional development alongside the tasks of memorising.
There are some songs sung during the film which are very beautiful. I have to admire the faces of the men with their well kept beards and even the stunning all back attire that features, especially on the slimmer actors. Its quite Alexander Wang.
Weiz’s character adds up all the expectations of the family, tradition and culture and concludes it would make her very low and desperate, so she’s not being bullied into them.
8 children anyone?
I think Esty’s best narrative in the film is when she says to her husband that she doesn’t feel she can be honest with him, and will he let her speak honestly to him? Having a faith myself I think there can be a lot of blurring between what is faith and what is culture. We all owe ourselves and those we care about the truth in a kind way.
Out now on Netflix and Amazon Prime or to buy on a pay as you go basis on YouTube.
My first experience of mental illness was at the end of my degree when I didn’t seem to be able to make progress on the dissertation. I came back to Bristol to have some support from my parents. It was the first time I experienced a loss of identity, which was that I was no longer a student heading towards a great career in the entertainment industry.
At home I later was given several diagnoses, a support plan which included mediation and I tried to resume my life by getting some manageable work opportunities.
Now ten years later I am exploring my own identify further and am on the waiting list for an Aspergers assessment through BASS. I don’t know what the outcome will be but with the research I have done I understand that there is so often an overlap in mental health and autism. Maybe I was struggling in my degree because I felt disconnected from my peers.
I reviewed opportunities to study in Bristol this year and courses have a lot more focus on wellbeing and student welfare. I even asked….’well when do you teach the course?’ I can look back at my experience with kinder eyes knowing that my university experience was one where very little was said to students about maintaining good mental health.
I hope anyone who reads this who is experiencing mental health difficulties can ask themselves these things: have I lost something that I identified strongly with (I may be grieving)?
Am I being too hard on myself? Have others let me down but I’ve failed to ask for what I need?
What can I gain from the experiences I have had in my life both good and bad?
What’s my next step? Write your OWN WordPress blog….