Israeli filmmaker Avishai Sivan’s “Tikkun” is tough, beautiful sit, a glacial but gorgeous black and white look at the strictures of Orthodox Judaism and the sort of yeshiva student who gets erections in the shower thinking about them, dies as a result and comes back to life.
Haim-Aaron (which might be the most Jewish name ever) is said yeshiva student. His father (apparently brilliant Palestinian Muslim actor Khalifa Natour) is a kosher butcher (the first thing we see is a cow being slaughtered, a prayer on the lips of the man with the knife), his mother, a cypher, takes care of the family.
Haim-Aaron (Aharon Traitel) is quite devout — he insists on fasting when he accidentally drops his bag of tefillin (small boxes of scripture used by Orthodox Jews during prayer). Drawn to the temptations of the flesh but unsure how to process them. Haim-Aaron dies during an accident in the shower while fantasizing about a girl. Forty minutes of panicked CPR later, he mysteriously comes back to life.
And then the wheels come off (very slowly, in a somewhat Lynchian manner). First, he doesn’t need his glasses anymore (OK so far). He attempts to visit prostitutes (this goes less well). He passively abandons yeshiva, seemingly unsure what God wants from him anymore, what with the whole coming back from the dead maybe interfering with God’s plan for him. And his attempts to explore his own sexuality are, at the minimum, extremely poorly timed. (There are a couple of shots involving genitalia in “Tikkun” you would absolutely never see in a mainstream American film.)
Takes are long, dialogue is sparse, the score is non-existent. You would be forgiven for finding “Tikkun” quite dull (a good 20 minutes out of the middle of the picture might have done wonders), but go for the glorious black and white cinematography — blessed is he who shoots in b&w in the 21st century century. I am sure that is in the Torah somewhere.
“Tikkun” plays again 2:45 p.m. Wednesday.