Calling “The Wedding Plan” a romantic comedy, as the film’s press materials do, can make marketing sense: like a cable movie or an independent movie.
In reality, this categorization is a bit simplistic for a film as unique, idiosyncratic and spiritual as this second feature film by American-Israeli writer-director Rama Burshtein, an ultra-Orthodox Jew whose acclaimed debut film of 2012, “Fill the Void.” , offered a much darker view of faith and marriage.
“The Wedding Plan” is not your mother’s romantic comedy, although it could start off that way. Michal (Noa Koler) is a 32-year-old Orthodox Jewish woman in Jerusalem whose fiancé, Gidi (Erez Drigues), announces that he does not love her. Crushed, but bound and determined to marry anyway, the lonely Michal decides to keep her planned wedding date (22 days, the eighth night of Hanukkah); pay with Shimi (Amos Tamam), the perplexed and dashing owner of the banquet hall she has already booked; send invitations and put faith in God so that a suitable bridegroom appears in time.
It’s a seemingly wacky, wacky premise with an initial air of inevitability. But once this measured film kicks off, the predictability crumbles, sending Michal on a winding, awkward, dark, and emotionally raw walk towards the chuppah. Did I mention that the atypical Michal runs a mobile petting zoo and knows snakes well?
Armed with the help of professional matchmakers and the support of dreadlocked best friend Feigi (Ronny Merhavi), an irregularly married sister (Dafi Alpern), an anxious mother (Irit Sheleg) and a sweet wheelchair friend with ALS, Michal sets out to find Mr. Right, or a reasonable facsimile, and perform his “Chanukah miracle.”
Except that Michal’s blind dates are arranged with men who are members of the Breslov sect of Hasidism, the main prerequisite of the bride-to-be, these encounters are as original and painful as those found in more traditional romantic comedies, let alone in real life. Among them, a man convinced that it is better not to look at Michal; a deaf man, but dull, whose handsome interpreter might have suited better; and an arrogant guy put off by what he aptly calls Michal’s “nut energy”.
However, on a pilgrimage to Ukraine to visit the tomb of the founder of Breslov Hasidism, the emotionally destroyed Rabbi Nachman Michal meets, in one of the strangest films, a popular Israeli singer named Yoss (Oz Zehavi ), who has been in the country for a concert. Yoss, with her lean and sexy beauty, killer smile and clothes and decidedly “non-religious” demeanor, yells inappropriate for Michal, who can’t believe this cool dude actually looks inside her. Like so many others here, fate will take its course, but not in the way that we – or Michal – might think.
Koler’s immersive and compelling performance, Burshtein’s effectiveness, which often affects the use of intimate framing and vivid reaction shots, pleasant and well-drawn supporting characters, as well as a vivid portrayal of religion and religion. culture, all add up to make “The Wedding Plan” an unusually involving experience, you are there. At its heart, the film is a sort of mystical fairy tale whose messages of belief, endurance, family and of belonging transcend its memorable specific people and setting.
“The wedding plan”
In Hebrew with English subtitles
Evaluation: PG, for thematic elements
Duration of operation: 1 hour 50 minutes.
Playing: The landmark, west of Los Angeles; Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena; Laemmle Town Center 5, Encino; Edwards Westpark 8, Irvine.
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