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LITTLE JERUSALEM

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 While this domestic drama is nominally about two Jewish sisters living in a mostly Jewish suburb of Paris, its real protagonists are faith and desire. Elder sister Mathilde (Elsa Zylberstein) is so devout as to be sexually repressed, only to discover that religion can't rein in the passions of her husband. Younger sister Laura (Fanny Valette) strives to be just as austere, taking refuge in philosophy and emulating the stoic restraint of her hero, Immanuel Kant. But when she is smitten with a young Algerian refugee, she discovers that faith in human reason, like faith in God, has its limits. Writer/director Karin Albou offers a largely predictable drama, one that revisits the well-established notion that faith constrains as well as consoles. The film's abrupt end suggests that, in a French society increasingly populated by immigrants, Western-style secular humanism may become as isolated, and as isolating, as the varying faiths of the country's newcomers. In French, Arabic and Hebrew, with subtitles. (CP)

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