In many ways, Olivia Peace’s film Tahara is a masterpiece. It wants to explore sexual themes, friendships, and death in an amazingly short time. Working with Jess Zeidman’s original script, Peace first enters these dark places and comes up with a movie that leaves no easy answers behind it – and even more interesting in it.
Comparison with Shiva Baby with the same theme is inevitable, but Tahara can be something very different. While some features may seem trivial, Tahara is an impressive legend that is reinforced by its distinctive visual style and well-matched directors.
Tahara (2022): Movie Review
After the death of a classmate, close friends Carrie (Madeleine Gray DeFreece) and Hannah (Rachel Sennott) found themselves attending her funeral and a “youth debate” at a local synagogue. The talk-back is intended to help various young people cope with their grief, but Hannah is deeply concerned about getting the attention of Tristan (Daniel Taveras), her long-term crush.
In a moment of incredible ignorance, Hannah makes Carrie kiss her to test her skills. For Hannah, it’s a passing moment, but for Carrie, it leads to a surprisingly colorful discovery of all the sadly painful commentary.
Tahara took place entirely in the synagogue, which would have been in danger of making the film sound too static. Initially, however, Peace works against this by using different viewing techniques. From cartoon weaving to increasing boxy aspect ratio during Carrie’s self-discovery times, Peace finds creative ways to really show what girls think and feel.
Carrie discovers a massive internal inspection of two tracks in Tahara, which may confuse those who may wish to better understand Hannah. However, since Carrie is a de facto character here, it makes sense that her journey will take precedence over everything else.
DeFreece is more than just meeting the challenge of carrying Carrie’s complex emotions throughout Tahara. From her excited anticipation to seeing that she has feelings for Hannah which makes her anxious as she actually learns how Hannah feels, DeFreece portrays Carrie’s arc with the sincerity that elevates Zeidman’s text.
As Hannah is very divisive, Sennott does not back down from negative aspects of her personality; in fact, she easily gets into her role. Sennott and DeFreece have a strong bond together, although the aspect of Carrie and Hannah’s relationship feels unresolved. Silence has a clever way of expressing the ease with which they interacted in the original scene, pointing to a long history, but there is still something missing from their bond.
In the wake of the bizarre discovery and complex friendship, Tahara also touches on the loss of a plan involving the deceased classmate. Since none of the characters involved were very close to the girl, the audience read a few details about her. There are times in Tahara suggesting that Hannah may have contributed to her death, but the movie does not focus on it in full.
In such a short time, that is understandable, but considering the nature of the death of a classmate (which was suicide), Tahara probably could not cope with this for long. It added extra depth to the whole story.
However, in what she intends to do, Tahara succeeds. It captures the strange nuances of self-discovery and is not afraid of the hot topics of friendship that can do more harm than good. DeFreece and Sennott are equal in their role, while other supporting actors help make Tahara feel comfortable inside. It’s far from the next age film, but that’s what makes it such an interesting summary. Audiences who are looking for a new word for filmmaking are not wise to listen to what Peace (and Zeidman, for that matter) will say.
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