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La Petite Jerusalem


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Editorial Reviews

La Petite Jerusalem

Special Features

  • Interview with writer/director Karin Albou
  • Still gallery
  • Trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Fanny Valette, Elsa Zylberstein, Bruno Todeschini, Hédi Tillette de Clermont-Tonerre, Sonia Tahar
  • Directors: Karin Albou
  • Writers: Karin Albou
  • Producers: Isabelle Pragier, Laurent Lavolé
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: French (Unknown)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Kino Video
  • DVD Release Date: September 12, 2006
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000G1ALQG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #140,753 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "La Petite Jerusalem" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Note: French and Hebrew with English subtitles.

`La Petite Jerusalem' released in '05 is an intelligent, thoughtful and articulate exploration of the question "What is reason capable of." In the context of this film it appears to be capable of luring Laura (Fanny Valette), an educated free thinking philosophy student out of the protective confines of her Orthodox Jewish community and blantantly defying its traditions to pursue a romantic relationship with a Moslem co-worker. While most of the ensuing chaos that occurs over such a relationship is predictable, the ongoing philosophical/religious debate between Laura and her trusted confidant Mathilde (Elsa Zylberstein) are quite penetrating and insightful. Those sequences along with the subplot concerning Mathilde and her struggle to faithfully follow the teachings of the Torah while adequately fulfilling her husbands physical desires are my favorite moments in the film.

`La Petite Jerusalem' provides a fascinating peek into modern Jewish culture which makes it definitely worth a watch whether you're of the Jewish persuasion or not.
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Format: DVD
This little gem, while melodramatic, lingers in memory basically by the beauty of images, music and female characters. You get inside their lives, rites, routine, family life, status of each member, machismo, religion vs. reason, sexuality, taboos one would think would have fallen in the XXI century, urban decay, how little philosophy students earn, even in the first world :) and so many other topics that would be tiresome even to read.

The film is fun to watch, it's very easy to relate with the characters, from Todeschini's very believable Ariel (!) to of course Zilberstein, one of the most beautiful faces in French cinema and Fanny Valette, simply startling. Aurore Clément exudes classy intelligence, as in all her roles. In here her role is pivotal, albeit small. "Religion is not opposed to pleasure". Thus, she makes things change for good.

Elsa did a classy prostitute with a hidden heart in "Tenue correcte exigée" (1997), thus showing here how big is her actoral range.
The only aspect I wasn't very convinced of was Djamel, and his family. For starters, I just don't see him as a good romantic partner for spellbinding Laura. Maybe it's that she's more amenable to our western idea of beauty and success at work. He, on the contrary, seems to do nothing but stalk at her at nigh, like a serial killer. We hear he says he was a journalist, but we get to know nothing about him besides he's got a bigot family. And quite stupidly, he takes her without, seemingly, having asked before if she would be accepted. The Arabs are shown as narrow minded as the Jews, only in a more brutish manner. One of the little phrases that matter is Laura's: "What did you do back home".
Read more ›
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Format: DVD
Director Karin Albou says she was only secondarily interested in her characters as Orthodox Jews, living in Paris. She was more concerned with the meaning of freedom - especially freedom for women in a highly regulated and constricted culture - and the rule of law. On the one hand we have the Talmudic law, which constrains one of the two sisters at the center of the film, who is married with four young children. Her husband, she learns has been unfaithful to her, we're given to understand, because of her unwillingness to partake in sexual pleasure she believes has not been granted to her as an observant Jew. The law, as it is explained to her, frees her to win back her husband's affections.

Her unmarried sister, a university philosophy student, understands from her reading of Kant that the law frees her from succumbing to disruptive passions, and she finds herself fighting the attraction that draws her to a co-worker, a secular Muslim. Meanwhile, the sisters' Moroccan mother attempts with spells, talismans, and introductions to eligible bachelors to marry her off. Freedom for the sisters' mother is being taken into the home of a man who can provide for her and protect her. The world outside the home is, she believes, dangerous, and she lives at the pleasure of her son-in-law, the man of the house. While she does not wish to leave Paris, she acquiesces without complaint as he announces that they will all emigrate to Israel.

Finally, the film is a meditation on the paradoxes that occur where freedom and law converge. Nicely filmed and edited, the story is elliptical and told in fragments that are sometimes left to the viewer to interpret. The pieces, much like the argument of the film, are not meant to fit neatly together. The DVD includes an interview with the director.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A simple story beautifully shot and well acted.

A girl from an close knit orthodox Jewish family in Paris falls for a mysterious, quiet Arab man.

It's familiar territory, but done so sensually, and with such rich sense of detail that it feels completely fresh. A glimpse into a closed off world, where people cling to traditions in both fear and pride, leading to an almost incestuous over-involvement in each other's lives.

Great use of close-up image throughout, adding texture, and intimacy. That rare film that gives such a sense of place it's like you can smell the air of the rooms of the family's apartment.
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La Petite Jerusalem
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