DVD Review: GOLDEN VOICES, Wistful, Unsentimental Nostalgia
Vladimir Friedman and Maria Belkin star in a tale of migration, told by Evgeny Ruman and Ziv Berkovich, coming soon on DVD from Music Box Films.
Inspired by their own experiences, those of their parents, and those of other Russian Jews who migrated to Israel, Evgeny Ruman and Ziv Berkovich have fashioned a story that is wistfully nostalgic yet unsentimental.
The film will be available February 22 on DVD, via Music Box Films.
Now in their early 60s, Victor (Vladimir Friedman) and Raya (Maria Belkin) have been caught up by sweeping changes after the collapse of the U.S.S.R., their homeland.
Their shared career in dubbing voices from a rich variety of international films into Russian has evaporated, and so, in 1990, they move to Israel, where a relative has found them somewhere to live. Victor yearns to do something similar, somehow, but prospects for work as a voice actor are non-existent, leaving him at loose ends as he accepts menial labor.
Raya responds to a 'help wanted' ad, which turns out to be for work as a phone-sex operator. She is so embarrassed that she flees quickly and lies to Victor about the nature of the job, but she returns there because they need the money. Still, she decides not to tell Victor what it is, exactly, that she is doing.
Evgeny Ruman and Ziv Berkovich wrote the screenplay together; Ruman directed and edited the picture, while Berkovich shot it as director of photography. In the early stretches of the film, it feels very much like many other 'fish out of water' tales of migration, keyed to the tune that the large wave of Russian emigrants experienced upon arrival in Israel. Victor and Raya have an easy and relatable relationship, born of their long relationship; they seem to get along quite well, though there are suggestions that they do not always see eye to eye, as it were.
Indeed, as their story progresses, it becomes more apparent that Raya is ready to move on from their previous life, to do something different, not just in their vocation but also in how they decide to live. Victor is stuck more firmly in the past, wanting to recreate what they had before, yearning for standards and practices that no longer exist.
Ruman and Berkovich have much respect for what their parents (and their generation) did, and understand how challenging it must have been for them, as they express in the audio commentary included on the home video edition, available from Music Box Films. They provide many fascinating details about their intentions to create what they had never seen before, and to make the production as realistic as possible. They also are sure to credit their collaborators, both in front of and behind the camera.
The fine-looking DVD also includes a poster gallery, deleted scenes, and trailers for other Music Box Films releases.
Suffused with fond recollections, Golden Voices nonetheless steers clear of syrupy sentimentality. It may not have been easy to make the trip or to make all the changes that were needed and to keep on making them, but that's what immigrants must do to survive. And maybe even thrive.