In the charming and bittersweet Israeli film “Golden Voices,” Vladimir Friedman and Maria Belkin play Victor and Raya Frenkel, “golden voices” actors in their 60s who make a living on voice-over films in the Soviet Union. Viewers will see Kirk Douglas, Gregory Peck, or Dustin Hoffman on screen but the Russian-speaking voice they hear is Victor’s. He said, “Every film is a whole world that we help people enter.” A fellow emigrant told him that when he saw “Spartacus” in Israel, he realized that what he loved about the film was Victor’s voice. “You made Kirk Douglas great!”
The Frenkel family, such as the actors who played him and co-writer/director Evgeny Ruman, were among the more than 900,000 Jews who emigrated to Israel when the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1980s. They earn very little through support. A nephew who used to be called Boris is now called Baruch. He drops them in an apartment he found for them and leaves them there. Victor suspects that the little utility box on the wall is some kind of spyware, reminding us that he should always be aware of it to be watched. But this film is very light touching cultural differences. This isn’t The Perfect Stranger A stylish sitcom full of witty misunderstandings and malapropisms. Standing in line to pick up the gas masks that would be used if Saddam Hussein dropped a chemical bomb on Israel seems to be as much a part of their new life as taking Hebrew lessons. .
What’s more troubling is not being able to find a “golden voice” job that meets their standards of professionalism and artistic value. The only Russian-language voice jobs they can find are unpaid public service announcements about what to do in the event of a toxic chemical attack on Victor and being a sex phone operator for the lonely Russian newcomer to Raya. She was so embarrassed by it that she told him she was a telemarketer. However, in one of the film’s best scenes, when it comes time for her to become not 62-year-old Raya in real life, but 22-year-old fantasy virgin Margarita on the line, Belkin shows us how the actress in Raya rises to the occasion and even enjoy being a player again. Raya/Margarita seamlessly transforms into different characters for a single caller. He could tell that he would appreciate an older, disgruntled wife’s fashion.
Victor toasts to “new beginnings” on their first night in Israel. But starters don’t happen all at once and don’t always taste as fresh as we’d like. The Frenkels and their relationship are put to the test as they must reinvent themselves. Their golden voices had been deployed on behalf of others for decades and their true selves, in this new environment, emerged uncomfortably. Raya says she wants to feel like the lead actress in her own life but “I’m not even a supporting character.” Victor is getting gloomy and distant. For the first time in a long time, perhaps forever, they had to find a way to speak with their own voices.
Belkin, who was nominated for Best Actress by the Israel Film Academy for this role, is a shining joy, showing us how Raya uses her voice to explore her deeper feelings as her husband has to leave his sense of self as a professional to do a quick voiceover from a pirated film. . This is definitely a personal story for the people who made it, a heartfelt thank you for the new beginnings they found in their new homes, and for all the new beginnings and those who dared to find them.