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With: Shulamit Adar, Liliane Rovere, Esther Gorintin
Written by: Emmanuel Finkel
Directed by: Emmanuel Finkel
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Hebrew, Russian with English subtitles
Running Time: 115
Date: 03/18/2013
IMDB

Voyages (2000)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

The Ties That Bind

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Unlike many recent films, Voyages does not directly discuss the horrors of theHolocaust. Though films like Schindler's List, Shoah, and Paragraph 175 areimportant and honorable in their own way, Voyages has found a new way to tellthe story, by showing the separation, rejoining, and reassessment of blood andfamily ties, and how the results of those dark days still affect them.

Writer-director Emmanuel Finkel gives us three stories, connected by mere wisps of events. The first chapter takes place on a bus ride from Warsaw to Auschwitz, a day trip to view various memorials and cemeteries. The bus breaks down and the camera drifts around the bus, capturing snippets of conversations between passengers. The focus though, is on an old married couple in the midst of a quarrel; she wants to remember her past while he wants to forget it.

Just when this one-set movie begins to get boring, the picture jumps to a brand new story; a group of people watching a screening of a video taken that day on the bus. Another old lady, Regine, leaves the screening and goes home. She receives a telephone call telling her that her father, presumed dead for 53 years, is still alive. After he comes to visit her, they spend time together and she learns her sister may also still be alive.

The film then skips to the third story; a family in the process of moving from Russia to Israel. A man, woman, and young child travel with Vera, their 85-year-old next-door neighbor. She's never been to Israel but has a cousin who lives there. She quickly finds that no one speaks Yiddish and she has a difficult time getting around. She manages to track down the cousin in an old folks home, but then faces the even more difficult prospect of finding her way home, dog-tired, at the end of the day.

Finkel began his career as an assistant to Krzysztof Kieslowski, a treasure among arthouse connoisseurs with The Double Life of Veronique (1991) and the Three Colors trilogy, Blue, White, and Red (1994). And indeed, Voyages somewhat resembles the look and feel of Kieslowski's The Decalogue. Finkel punctuates his stories with potent little stolen moments; the old man saving a seat for his wife on the bus and the look on his face when she passes him by, Regine watching her newfound father sleep, and Vera collapsing from exhaustion on a busy Israel bus. But the film's final moment will make you gasp and your heart tingle. Voyages is a fine achievement.

DVD Details: New Yorker released the Voyages DVD in 2005, with a 27-minute making-of featurette and a trailer. The box contains a quote from the above review (originally published in the San Francisco Examiner).

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