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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Tikkun (Blu-ray)
Tikkun (Blu-ray)
Kino // Unrated // November 8, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $34.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Randy Miller III | posted March 24, 2017 | E-mail the Author

Though it's tough to watch the pitiful life (or is it lives?) of its central character unravel, Avishai Sivan's Tikkun (2015) remains a bold and memorable drama that's bound to polarize audiences. Our story follows Haim-Aaron (Aharon Traitel, making a strong debut): dedicated religious scholar in Jerusalem, son of ultra-orthodox parents (Khalifa Natour and Riki Blich), and older brother to Hanke (Gur Sheinberg). After a horrific accident, Haim-Aaron is declared dead until his father intervenes and the young man returns to life. But, in more ways than one, he's a different person: Haim-Aaron now has perfect vision, no longer craves meat...and has abandoned his faith, much to the disappointment of his strict parents. He's on a new path, and walking it alone.

Comprised mostly of fixed camera angles and long takes, Tikkun's striking cinematography feels more classic than contemporary; if not for some of the cars and a few other background details, this could pass for a 50 year-old production. That's not a complaint, mind you: the film's greatest strength is undoubtedly its surreal appearance and almost hypnotic atmosphere, one that perfectly suits a story where visual details are much more important than actual dialogue. Tikkun has the tendency to lull viewers with its rather ordinary cast of characters, throwing occasional curve balls via brief dream sequences broken by cold reality.

Tikkun develops into an interesting examination of one man's struggle with his strict religious upbringing (especially during the film's second act, once Haim-Aaron hitchhikes into the city to explore), yet his life's new direction crumbles quickly. Shamed by his parents for daring to step outside their carefully-drawn boundaries, his attempts to stray from tradition or influence his younger brother are quickly shut down. Even worse, Haim-Aaron's moral compass seems to disappear as he persists: though one can't blame a young adult for being curious about sexuality and other natural functions routinely demonized by religion, his third-act behavior is tough to swallow...but clearly foreshadowed, so it's not a total shock. Without spoiling any events, Tikkun hints that Haim-Aaron's actions may have incurred punishment from a higher power, which puts a large question mark at the end of its intended message. In this world, most of the characters who have abandoned their faith don't get to enjoy much of a happy ending.

Perhaps his "punishment" is just chance, or maybe I'm missing something by having lived my life far removed from the teachings of ultra-orthodox Judaism. Yet even though I can't completely agree or identify with what I perceive to be the film's mission statement, I can respect the courage and bravery it takes to craft a serious film about the self-destructive nature of religious fundamentalism. Tikkun is, by default, a worthwhile experience due to its memorable atmosphere and fantastic performances, even if the subject matter and ultimate message may hinder the film's replay value. This is ironically mirrored by Kino Lorber's Blu-ray, which looks and sounds great but misses the opportunity to further enlighten outsiders by skipping all the bonus features.

Video & Audio Quality

Presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, this 1080p transfer of Tikkun looks excellent from start to finish; not surprising, since this recent film is practically given a dual-layered disc all to itself. Image detail is extremely strong with crisp textures, especially during outdoor sequences, while black levels and contrast are all very consistent with few exceptions. A very brief CGI effect during the first hour---I won't spoil it for obvious reasons---can't help but look out of place, but that may very well be a source material issue. Overall, it's an exceptional transfer of great and borderline surreal cinematography by Shai Goldman...and even if you're like me and weren't completely thrilled with the films itself, it's obvious that great care went into its appearance.


DISCLAIMER: The still images and screen captures on this page are decorative and do not represent the Blu-ray under review.

The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 or 2.0 (both in the original Hebrew and Yiddish); I chose the former option, which showcased a pleasing amount of separation and depth on several occasions. Dialogue and background effects are well-balanced and don't fight for attention, although it should be restated that Tikkun is exceptionally quiet and subdued during most of its running time. Still, the audio is often effective during several key moments, even while there were opportunities for more creative sound design. Optional English subtitles, which also helpfully define a few foreign words and objects, are included during the film.

Menu Design, Packaging, & Extras

Kino's static interface is smooth and simple, with well-organized content and a black-and-white design that suits the film perfectly. The 119-minute film is divided into a modest 10 chapters. This one-disc package arrives in a standard keepcase with matching disc art and no inserts. Bonus features are limited to the film's Theatrical Trailer (2 minutes); this is extremely disappointing, as an audio commentary or interview with the director may have helped to decipher some of the film's themes and details.

Polarizing, occasionally confusing, and an absolutely joy to stare at, Avishai Sivan's Tikkun is one of the most unconventional modern dramas in recent memory. A mixture of character study, religious examination, emotionally-charged nightmare, and quiet mystery, the film's slow-burning plot isn't for everyone but will undeniably find favor with patient viewers. That said, it's almost too ambiguous in certain areas and a handful of scenes border on self-indulgent in the way they're drawn out several seconds (or minutes) longer than expected. But Tikkun is a worthwhile journey taking at least once, thanks to its incredible cinematography and excellent lead performance by first-time actor Aharon Traitel. Kino's Blu-ray package offers predictably great A/V specs, but the high retail price and lack of substantial extras makes this more of a curiosity than a keeper for all but the biggest fans. Rent It.


Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey by day and film reviewer by night. He also does freelance design work, teaches art classes and runs a website or two. In his limited free time, Randy also enjoys slacking off, juggling HD DVDs, and writing in third person.
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