Zaza is a 31-year old Israeli bachelor, handsome and intelligent, and his family wants to see him married. But tradition dictates that Zaza has to choose a young virgin. She must be ... See full summary »
A psychologically troubled novelty supplier is nudged towards a romance with an English woman, all the while being extorted by a phone-sex line run by a crooked mattress salesman, and purchasing stunning amounts of pudding.
Paul Thomas Anderson
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Zaza is a 31-year old Israeli bachelor, handsome and intelligent, and his family wants to see him married. But tradition dictates that Zaza has to choose a young virgin. She must be beautiful and from a good family, preferably rich. Zaza's parents, Yasha and Lily drag Zaza to meet potential brides and their families. Zaza has no choice. He plays along with his family, advocates of the suffocating traditions of their Georgian Jewish heritage. But Zaza always manages to somehow get out of being engaged. What his parents don't know is that Zaza is already in love. Judith is sensuous, strong and intriguing. She's also a divorcée with a 6-year-old daughter. So Zaza has kept Judith a secret from his family. He will have to choose between respect of the strict confines of family and tradition, or the love of his life. Written by
This film opened last night in Los Angeles, and seemed to draw a pretty good crowd -- I assume they'd all heard the same positive buzz I'd heard...
Interesting look at a very old fashioned culture (Georgians who emigrated to Israel), and the demands they make on a grown son. From an American perspective, the parents' objections to the son's choice in girlfriend (or potential wife) seem trivial: she's slightly older, and divorced.
But here are my issues with the film: The character Zaza is a very weak-willed man who bends too easily to his parents' demands. Now, it's interesting to see someone who's not a traditional Hollywood "strong" hero -- but it was hard to be sympathetic with this guy, since he didn't really seem to disagree with his parents. There's a pretty long sex scene(which has been justifiably lauded as much more realistic than anything you'll see in a Hollywood film), but later in the film, he treats his girlfriend pretty badly. There's a pivotal scene in which he sides with his parents vs. the girlfriend, and I just lost all respect for the character at that point.
Also, the movie drags on a bit...Could have benefited from quite a bit of editing. Couple other criticisms: Characters are introduced, but it's not clear who they are, or how they are related (maybe it loses something in the subtitles). More importantly, I read a review in a newspaper here that said a key plot point was the different ethnic backgrounds of Zaza and his girlfriend: But that did not come across at all! Maybe in Israel that is a big deal, and if so, that should have been made clear to American audiences, as well. Again, I suspect something got left out in the subtitle translations...
Still, it's interesting to see an Israeli film, and maybe this director will have something better up his sleeve next time...
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