Voyages is set in the secure, ordinary world of the present. Its three linked stories take place in clean, friendly, post-Communist Poland, in the middle-class neighborhoods of Paris, and in the bright bustle of Tel Aviv. Moving slowly and confusedly through these hectic landscapes, which seem perfectly indifferent to history, are a collection of elderly Jews trying to find a way to reconcile the blandness of the modern world with what they know of its recent past: 65-year-old Rivka is on a tourist bus, which breaks down between Warsaw and Auschwitz; anxiety mounts alarmingly in the racket of Yiddish conversation that follows from the other passengers. Regine, also 65, believes she's found her elderly father who's traveling across Europe to get to Paris. Vera, an 80-year-old Russian woman at the end of her life and alone in the world, has just immigrated to Israel. She's looking for the cousin she hasn't seen for many years. Alone, she hops on bus after bus. Everything is foreign to her, she gets totally lost, is on the verge of collapse. Then, finally in the last bus, purely by chance, she meets Rivka.
Given the subject, Voyages has a remarkable sense of subtlety and restraint. Finkiel's characters carry themselves with heartbreaking dignity. The history of the Jews in postwar and post-cold war Europe is carved into their faces, but it is written in an alphabet nobody knows how to read. This movie operates in the limbo between memory and oblivion that we recognize as daily life. It bears courageous and stringent witness to the impossibility of bearing witness and powerfully evokes the terrors of the past by showing them to be out of reach. Time's power to heal - or at least to dull - even the most hideous wounds may be the greatest tragedy of all.
Dir. Of Photography
HANS MEIER (POLAND/PARIS)
JEAN-CLAUDE LARRIEU (ISRAEL)