Fantastic Fest, 2015
“Tikkun” is a film so deeply rooted in an orthodox Jewish tradition that certain Hebrew terms discussed by the characters require parenthetical explanations. But, as has been said of many transcendent works before it, the universal comes from the specific. The experiences of one Hasidic family, as presented in frightening and fantastic detail by director Avishai Sivan, come to make vivid sense for anyone familiar with religious communities that impose strict asceticism.
Haim-Aron (Aharon Traitel), a scholar of the Torah, briefly departs the land of the living after an involuntary erection in the shower leads him to slip and fall. He eventually rejoins the world but begins to sense a rebellion of his physical nature against the spiritual one to which he committed. The body might have been created by God, but now it responds to chemical impulses that feel far from holy. These experiences alienate Haim-Aron both from his faith and from his
Sivan effectively toggles between the ultra-real and the surreal, depicting both the tedium of the Hasidic institutions and the haunting fantasies that come to grip Haim-Aron’s consciousness. Most of these take on the sense of dread akin to a Biblical curse – cockroaches squirming, lambs slaughtered, alligators in toilets, horses in the street, mantises at a doctor’s office. These stark visions might be more impressive discretely than “Tikkun” as a whole, although its cumulative effect is hard to shake. B+ /