La Petite Jérusalem
Karin Albou :: France :: 2004 :: 1h34
Set in a Jewish Parisian suburb, a very intimate portrait of an extended family and the role of thinking (and belief) on the emotional and physical self. It may not have been necessary to show how integrated they are in their micro-society, with the sole purpose of explaining the practical dictate which guides their lives, as the relationship between thinking, acting and desire has been so finely developed.
Laura, 18 years old, has consciously become a woman and tries to incorporate her thinking (Kantian) and studies (philosophy) into her life. Around her, she sees her sister who tries to live well following religious laws as closely as possible and their mother, who through her superstition has a more poetic approach to life. Laura rejects both the representational form (poetic) and the religious form (belief) granting allegiance to the best her mind can offer. Kant, himself practically the embodiment of rationality, forms a perfect role model for Laura, who finds liberty through adherence to rational laws (as opposed to religious ones). There are flagrant parallels between their mother who finds her support in the community (with folk tales), Laura’s sister Mathilde who finds support from the religious (established) community and Laura herself, who passes through rationality with the help of her studies (philosophy). All three options are non-judged viable routes.
By not skipping over difficult scenes, we see the revealing moments in their lives. Advice is given in a non-confrontational manner, each according to her beliefs, clearly showing the love the characters cherish for each other. These timeless scenes are the crossroads of the intimate, between the physical and the mental. Where the sensuous beauty of the body dances or shivers in her beliefs. A great achievement by the young director Ms Albou!