Wedding plan

Israeli filmmaker’s ‘wedding plan’ goes beyond wacky comedy

TThe smiling trailer for “The Wedding Plan” nevertheless suggests an unfortunate result: Has Israeli filmmaker Rama Burshtein sold out?

The acclaimed debut film by the Orthodox writer-director, “Fill the Void,” was the uncompromising story of a young Orthodox woman grappling with the expectations of her parents and the community for her future husband. In contrast, “The Wedding Plan,” while also being related to the chuppah, appears in the trailer as a romantic comedy designed to entertain.

In fact, “The Wedding Plan” is a high-stakes emotional journey on an observant woman in her 30s who is so unhappy that she decides to get married on the last night of Hanukkah – with no groom in sight – after her fiance breaks up. with her just a few weeks before their scheduled date.

Michal’s family and friends advise against such a bold and potentially devastating strategy, but she doesn’t be put off. There are plenty of witty one-liners in the movie, but Burshtein certainly hasn’t run out. It simply trusted the marketing strategy of its American distributor, even if some ticket buyers are being misled.

“If you think you’re going to see a romantic comedy and you get something more, that’s fine,” Burshtein says. “You get something stronger and that’s OK.”

“The Wedding Plan” (Hebrew with subtitles) opens today at Century 21 El Con.

Burshtein’s two films lift a veil on the lives of Orthodox women, in part thanks to the honest conversations they have with each other when the men are not around. The characters reject the idea that Orthodox women are submissive to men and, unsurprisingly, their creator as well.

“For me, being religious is liberating,” says Burshtein. “It’s not killing or shutting down or not letting me express my thoughts.”

Burshtein goes even further, arguing that women are the creative force.

“The art world is about women,” she says. “[Orthodox] men don’t make films, they don’t cook, they don’t paint.

Burshtein initially pitched “The Wedding Plan” as a TV series, but after getting the green light and getting into the screenplay, she decided it would be a feature film. Although she doesn’t say it, a movie is seen by more people around the world than an Israeli TV show.

“I write from my world to the outside world,” the filmmaker explains in a telephone interview during a press day in Washington, DC. [just] to the laity but to non-Jews. It opens a window to my world for people who don’t know anything about my world.

Burshtein was born in New York and became a nun while in film school in Jerusalem in the 1980s. She says she didn’t expect the attention her films received at the abroad, but at the same time, she is not surprised that they reach audiences far beyond Tel Aviv and New York.

“We live in a time when women find their partners quite late,” says Burshtein. “And sometimes they don’t. It is very difficult to find someone with whom you really want to share your life. [My films] connect to it. All over the world, it’s the same thing, the same heart.

“The Wedding Plan” unfolds unequivocally and unequivocally in the Orthodox community, but the heart of the film is Michal’s urgent personal quest. While her ostensible goal is to get married, a raw and powerful opening scene makes it clear that what she truly desires and seeks is respect from a committed partner.

Michal’s effort is universal and at times absurd, which breeds the humor of the film. Because she has no time to waste, Michal (played by the fearless Noa Koler) confronts every potential suitor with straightforward questions and incredibly honest confessions that derail and confuse them.

Michal’s pain and despair are palpable through the laughter, to the point that she makes a pilgrimage to Ukraine to the grave of Rabbi Nachman in Breslov. This is not an accidental detail, as Burshtein is a supporter of Nachman’s philosophy.

“We can handle desperation and we can handle hope,” says the filmmaker. “The film is this movement between the two. You should be a fighter in the movement and not get lost in the movement.

Michael Fox is a San Francisco-based film critic.

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