Voyages begins with an elderly Jewish woman accidentally being left by her husband in a cemetery. The woman - named Rivka (Shulamit Adar) - is on a trip visiting Poland with her husband and a large group of Jewish survivors from World War II. In the next scene the bus they are taking to Auschwitz breaks down. While they wait the woman informs her husband that she no longer loves him.
Before the trip is over both the man and woman overhears two stories from a couple of older men on the trip about real life coincidences that are both bittersweet yet inspiring.
This first secton sets the tone for the entire film. It is at once ironic and banal but with an undercurrent of enlightenment.
The film, written and directed by Emmanuel Finkiel, is really three separate stories all of which subtly intertwine to give us one big picture about the characters and to a certain extend Holocaust survivors in general. However, the film is not really a 'Holocaust movie'. It's really more about identity and the intriguing way that people are connected in the world in ways that they barely understand.
The second part is Regine's (Liliane Rover) story. She is an widow living in Paris. One day she receives a phone call that her long lost father is coming to visit. She is skeptical because she knows he died in a concentration camp. When he arrives she takes him in and then tries to figure out if there is any way he is her father.
The third story is the most interesting. It is about an elderly woman named Vera [Esther Gorintin] who moves from Russia to Tel Aviv on a whim and then finds herself alienated by the people she moved to Israel with. She decides to go in search of her cousin whom she has not seen in close to thirty years. Along the way she meets a good many people; non of whom speak Yiddish. She struggles along the way and then happens upon a nice woman who invites her in for tea.
Voyages is very well directed and acted and, best of all, it is not overly focused on plot. Each episode unfolds in a very natural way and ends precariously. Indeed, at times the film has a documentary feel to it. And the filmmaker makes a lot of subtle observations that feel more real than staged. But the film remains engaging primarily because of the performances and the mystery that the filmmaker presents in each section.
The most important theme in Voyages is that of time and memory. In each case the characters take a voyage to find themselves. But they realize that they are so far removed from the past that - even though they live with it each day and it has defined them - they have a difficulty relating it to the world around them in the present. Yet the happenstance of their lives helps them understand things a little deeper and therefore it helps them survival.
The DVD is presented in widescreen non-anamorphic with an aspect ratio of 1.77:1. The transfer is above average because it is relatively sharp. But at times - especially in still shots it seems to have a video quality that reveals artifact. It's not easily detectable however.
Thd audio is in French, Russian and Hebrew with optional English subtitles. The film has a good amount of quiet moments but the dialogue sounds fine.
The only extra is a making of featurette that is titled Esther's Journey. True to the title it follows around actress Esther Gorintin an 85 year old woman who made her film debut in Voyages. She has a distinct look and is an endearing woman but also tough. The extra is very much a companion piece to the feature. There is also the original French trailer, which is true in tone to the film.
Voyages is a Holocaust survival story set in modern day. It is made up of three stories all of which interconnect in interesting ways. There is true talent behind and in front of the camera. The DVD only has one extra but it is good. Recommended.