La Petite Jerusalem | Chicago Reader

La Petite Jerusalem

The title of this erotic 2005 drama refers to a Parisian suburb populated by a large number of North African immigrants, where an Orthodox Jewish family from Tunisia struggles with cramped quarters, anti-Semitism, and the scholarly ambitions of the unwed daughter (Fanny Valette). She prefers Immanuel Kant's rigorous philosophy to religious dictates, while her older sister (Elsa Zylberstein), a dutiful wife and mother, drives her husband to infidelity with her prudish interpretation of the Torah. Writer-director Karin Albou nicely balances intellect against spirituality but is defeated by the sex scenes, which are tinged with an orientalist exoticism; the result is a bodice-ripper for the art-house crowd. In French, Arabic, and Hebrew with subtitles. 96 min.

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