Music Box Films
Reviewed by Tami Smith, Film Reviewer for Shockya
Director: Evgeny Ruman
Screenwriters: Evgeny Ruman, Ziv Berkovich
Cast: Maria Belkin, Vladimir Friedman, Evelin Hagoel, Uri Klauzner, Alexander Senderovich
Release Date: October 8th, 2021
After the Soviet Union’s collapse in the late 1980s, Soviet Jews were allowed to leave the U.S.S.R. Most immigrated to Israel. Golden voices tells the story of one such middle class couple Vitya (Vladimir Friedman) and Raya (Maria Belkin) that decided to make Aliyah after being downsized from their jobs as film dubbers in the old country. Hoping to make a fresh start in the Holy Land the sixty-something couple was eager to find housing and employment in the radio industry. Opportunities were few for speakers of the Russian language since their skill set was not needed, so Raya found night employment conducting phone sex for the Russian community, at fifteen Shekels per hour. She hid the nature of her employment, telling Vitya that her work involved “perfume telemarketing”. Vitya found a job distributing government war leaflets while moonlighting with a shady VHS tape company.
Golden Voices, a dramatic comedy, is based on director Ruman’s own childhood experience after immigrating with his family to Israel in 1990. The film describes the experiences of newcomers that left their culture behind while coming to a strange land with different climate and politics. Two scenes stand out. One is Vitya’s and Raya’s facial expressions after being assigned regulation gas masks during the Gulf War, followed by a hilarious scene of the couple sitting in a movie theater, while being stared at by thirty masked film spectators. A second scene follows Vitya in a VHS store, watching Dustin Hoffman’s monologue in Kramer vs. Kramer and reciting the speech verbatim in Russian.
First rate acting is accomplished by Maria Belkin as Raya. This sixty-two-year old character keeps her sunny side up even while performing a job way below her station. A more subdued performance comes from Vladimir Friedman as Vitya, a former actor in the Russian voice industry now reduced to questionable dealings with shady companies. Evelin Hagoel plays Devora, an owner of a sex call center who takes her job with the determination of a general conducting war games on the battlefield, later showing her humane side.
Golden Voices is highly recommended for mature audience that can appreciate an underplayed humor. It was edited by director Ruman. Original music is by Avraham Pirchi, Chilik Michaeli and Tami Leon. English subtitles accompany spoken Hebrew and Russian.
88 minutes Rated: NR © Tami Smith, Film Reviewer