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film review

Emil Ben-Shimon’s delightful Israeli dramedy The Women’s Balcony begins with a crash: A synagogue’s balcony, to which women are relegated, gives way during a bar mitzvah.Ismach Hatani

Emil Ben-Shimon's delightful Israeli dramedy begins with a crash: A synagogue's balcony, to which women are relegated, gives way during a bar mitzvah. After the concrete crashes, the wife of an elderly rabbi is severely injured and the congregation's happy little world is turned upside down.

The tragedy overwhelms the old rabbi to the point that a younger seminarian, Rabbi David, takes over. He's mesmerizing and boldly orthodox, full of strict ideas on women's modesty. Sides are taken; wives and husbands are caught in a battle of the sexes. At one point, the electricity goes off during a dinner. A "Sabbath gentile" arrives to fix the circuit breaker, but Rabbi David objects to this get-around of religious law.

We can view his preference that everyone should remain in the dark as an allegory. Well conceived, deftly comic and finely acted (particularly Evelin Hagoel as the gutsy wives' ringleader), The Women's Balcony overlooks nothing when it comes to addressing faith, segregation and sexism in a peppery, entertaining way.

Actor and author Chris Colfer says he held onto the film rights to his fantasy series The Land of Stories until he was sure it would be “done right.” The former Glee star is set to write and direct a movie adaptation.

The Canadian Press