Sheva Brachot or Seven Blessings, an award-winning film, directed by Ayelet Menachemi, is about complicated family relationships. The film was the big winner of the Israeli Ophir Awards this year – winning for best director, best film, and best actress (Raymonde Amsallem who also starred in The Future this year).
It is a film about joy, eating, and drinking, all around a family simcha. But also, behind the façade of the joy, lies a story of jealousies, resentment and family secrets. This is a comedy/drama, a stupendous Moroccan family story that takes place in 1990s Israel.
The main character, Marie, lives in Paris, and comes with her fiancé to Israel to celebrate her wedding with her family members all present. The film opens with the wedding and the first thing we see is that, when the rabbi calls for the bride’s mother, two mothers hold hands to help her lift her veil and drink the wine. And thus begins a story of two sisters, one who was childless, and one who was blessed with many children. Back in Morocco, the sister with many children gave away one of her children to her childless sister. The child who was given away was Marie. She was brought up in a dour household, as against the boisterous household of her parents and her siblings. And she has many resentments until this day.
As we go from celebration to celebration, marking all the nights of the week following the wedding, we meet all of Marie’s siblings, each with their own problems. One drinks too much. One is having fertility treatments. One is falling out of love with her taxi-driver husband. I loved the scenes in which everyone talked over everyone else and the way the members of the family so easily moved between speaking Moroccan Arabic, French and Hebrew.
The filmmaker, Ayelet Menachemi, also made Noodle (previously reviewed on this blog), one of my favorite Israeli feature films, also about a strong woman character.