Sarah Moosazadeh is a staff writer for the Atlanta Jewish Times.
If you’re looking for a film that highlights Israel’s Orthodox community, “A Quiet Heart” is for you, but if you’re looking for a thriller that will keep you up all night, you should pass.
After a series of failed attempts to grab recognition as a classical pianist, Naomi Sirad (played by Ania Bukstein) moves out of her parent’s home in Tel Aviv to a Haredi neighborhood in Jerusalem, where she strives to rediscover who she is.
While Sirad tries to manage a new job, get over a boyfriend she hasn’t seen in eight months and deal with an ultra-Orthodox neighbor who frequently chastises her, she also attracts the attention of her neighbor’s mute teen son, who occasionally breaks into her apartment to play the piano the previous tenant mysteriously left behind.
It’s not long before things take a turn for the worse when Sirad receives threatening letters demanding that she leave the neighborhood and labeling her as a missionary.
To find solace, Sirad begins visiting a monastery, where she befriends a monk who teaches her how to play the organ and how to stand up for herself. News of her rendezvous soon reaches Sirad’s ultra-Orthodox neighbors, who attempt to push her to the edge.
Although the narrative provides a decent portrayal of some challenges Israelis face while living with Haredim, it fails to capture a viewer’s attention for long. Furthermore, each scene takes an excruciating amount of time to build, and the plot depends on too many chance encounters and revealed secrets. I find the 92-minute film one hour too long.
Atlanta Jewish Film Festival screenings: Jan. 28, 5:20 p.m., Perimeter Pointe; Feb. 2, 1:25 p.m., Atlantic Station; Feb. 7, 11:50 a.m., Springs; Feb. 13, 7:50 p.m., Springs