Netflix is rolling out some fine drama and Unorthodox is one such example. It’s a 4 part series based on a memoir by Deborah Feldman. It tells the story of a young woman living in an orthodox Hasidic, Jewish community in New York. The restrictions and expectations of community life are unbearable and she eventually leaves the marriage and flees the community to make a new life in Berlin. In this life she makes friends at a music school where she hopes to study. Here she mixes with people from very different backgrounds to her own lived experience. Her Jewish husband and a relative travel to Berlin to find her and bring her home.That’s the bald summary of a story but the layers of complexity, tone and pace are beautifully created.
Three women film-makers created this excellent film, made in 4 episodes. Anna Winger and Maria Schrader and German/ Canadian filmmaker, Alexa Karolinski. What’s so special about it? The quality of the storytelling visually is outstanding. The wedding scene will not be forgotten. Its detail, beauty and power is unique. The story is complex because it is told in Yiddish and English. It moves between the past and present and it is told through the eyes of one small, quiet, thoughtful young woman.
Also on Netflix is a short piece about the making of this film, the detailed research and accuracy of costuming and understanding hasidic practices and culture. It is never attention grabbing. never overdone. It confidently tells the story without resort to heavy handed cinematic technique. .Shira Haas plays the main role with subtlety and finesse.
Unorthodox is a quiet achiever but do not miss it! It’s magnificent.