Release date:January 27, 2006
Starring:Fanny Valette, Elsa Zylberstein, Sonia Tahar, Bruno Todeschini, Aurore Clement
Set in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles, "La Petite Jerusalem" is the nickname of a low-income, concrete housing neighborhood with a substantial number of Jewish and Jewish immigrant residents. Among the thousands of men, women and children living there, one small household shelters a Tunisian-Jewish family of eight: Laura (played by Fanny Valette), a French born, 18-year-old philosophy student, her older sister Mathilde (Elsa Zylberstein), their Tunisian mother (Sonia Tahar), Mathilde's husband Ariel (Bruno Todeschini) and the couple's four young kids. Struggling to find her own voice inside a crowded house, Laura refuses Ariel's orthodox ethical codes and renounces her mother's superstitious background. Instead, the young woman embraces her studies in Kantian philosophy and decides to close her heart to strangers. Although fully committed to her intellectual and philosophical life (to the point of following Kant's daily, hour-long walking ritual), Laura eventually runs into a classic disruption: an ex-journalist, Algerian Muslim émigré named Djamel, who also works as a custodian in the local high school. Deeply attracted to his background and persona, Laura is forced to rethink her postulation that all romantic love is, in actuality, a harmful illusion. As Laura begins a yet-unstable affair with Djamel, Mathilde's efforts to revive the sagging intimacy of her marriage backfire when she learns about Ariel's infidelity. Having followed the rule of religion throughout her life, Mathilde now turns to an unnamed woman counselor (played by Aurore Clement) whose interpretation of Jewish law legitimizes sexual pleasure within marriage and also opens her eyes to different ways of enacting religious faith.