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Late Marriage is one of the best Israeli films in many years. It is to
the credit of director Dover Kashashivili to translate it to the screen
into one of the frankest depiction of a love affair seen in recent
memory. The director avoids the clichés of other films that pretend to
show a sexual relationship between two lovers in a a film. He doesn't
leave anything to our imagination as the characters of this story
clearly show us.
The two main actors, Lior Ashkenazi, Zaza, and Ronit Elkabetz, the Judith of the story, are mature individuals who obviously feel a passionate love for one another. They're powerless against the wishes of Zaza's family who are hell bent into separating them. Never mind that is very obvious how both feel about each other. She's an older divorcée who obviously will be the ruin of the scholarly Zaza.
Both Mr. Ashkenazy and Ms. Elkabetz could give acting lessons to our repressed so-called movie stars. Their passion is on the surface for us to see and feel. What we really enjoyed was the way these two actors act against each other in what could have been very embarrassing scenes. They pulled it off with panache.
The ensemble cast is very good, but of course, they don't come close to the stars who take the film and run away with it. Let's hope we can see more of them in other Israeli films.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I went to see this movie having being told it was a comedy, and it is - until it takes an inevitable and disturbing turn. It's tragi-comedy in the purest, old-Greek sense, where the humour and the dread fuel each other. The star of the film is Lior Ashkenazi, a handsome, charismatic actor who plays Zaza as a complex character - in turn sexy and easy to root for, then weak and pitiable. The sex scene the film is famed for isn't particularly sexy, it is, instead horribly intimate - it's like a scene from your own bed, and the familiarity of it is shocking in a great way. Plus, the lack of fuss concerning nudity is marvellous - perhaps we do live in a civilized, modern world after all? The ending of the film is also disturbing, and in the end the movie isn't easy to take. I wouldn't want it any other way, but it makes repeat viewings difficult.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I finally caught up with this film, as it jumped from art house to art house, looking for an audience. It was worth the wait and the effort.
The opening scene is worth the price of admission!
The contradictions of the Georgian culture are well exposed and developed from the get-go. Such a clan of boorish men, verbally abusive towards their women (which seems to be taken for granted by all), uniting with their women, to go through the charade of finding a virgin for their son who doesn't want one! That's not to say that these men hold the values of virginity or fidelity in high esteem, beyond the ritual of the fishing expedition, with the resultant wedding and....of course....the future grand-SON. No mention of grand-daughters here.
If the complexity of the Georgian way of life was well developed, the reality of cultural and social life in Tel Aviv was not...the entire burden of representing Tel Avivian culture was put on the shoulders of Zaza and Judith to carry...and that burden was too heavy, given that their characters weren't more deeply developed.
It was "Zaza and Judith's Behavior" versus "Centuries of Georgian Ways". An exposition of Tel Aviv's bursting energy and the complexity of its social mores would have served the film well. That would have given much more depth to the film's focus on Zaza and Judith.
I liked the simplicity of the cinematography; it was realistic and it worked well; though I regret the director's choice to tightly focus on minimal sets and settings. Where was Tel Aviv? The film could have been made in Mexico or in the south of France. It needed more context... geographic and cultural.
Once again, the burden of "being" Tel Aviv was carried by Zaza, who didn't come close to convincing me that he was pursuing a doctorate in philosophy. Surely, the move from Georgia to Tel Aviv had more impact on who Zaza was than his sexual values. It would have added a lot to the film to give Zaza more complexity.
Apart from these relatively minor criticisms, I was engrossed by the film and left the theater feeling its impact. It's a film I'd strongly recommend to a friend.
SPOILER AHEAD: ======================================================> To conclude, I'd like to comment on "the love scene" and on the ending of the film.
I liked the playfulness of the scene. These folks were INVOLVED with one another! The single element of the love scene that went beyond all that has come before it, to the best of my knowledge, is that bodily fluids were portrayed and their presence was addressed by the lovers. This takes the portrayal of love-making a step beyond what has come before it. The scene was a bit flawed by the false note that rang in the apparant spontaneity of their love-making. We still haven't gotten beyond the "strategically arranged bedsheet" stage of depicting sex in films.
The ending was a powerhouse for me; it had a great impact. I didn't know what it was till I was walking out of the theater. I felt the sting of Judith's words: "You love them more than you love me." In the wedding scene, the truth of her words was borne out...and this drama became tragedy when Zaza's behavior at the wedding banquet fore-shadowed a future in which he would become like the other men in his family. Very powerful!
And so, I think the opening and closing scenes were worth the price of admission, and there was a lot to be involved with in between.
Hats Off! to the director.
While I absolutely loved the movie and found it to be both funny
and bittersweet, I write here to differ with other displayed comments.
The part of the conservative Georgian
community shown in this Israeli movie is most certainly NOT
matriarchal. The problems that the male protagonist experiences
are NOT due to women controlling the society. The reason his
family doesn't want to allow him to be with the woman he loves is
because it is a *patriarchal* society, where an older, divorced
woman with a child -- no matter how loving, intelligent and
beautiful -- is viewed through a sexist lens as damaged goods.
Anyone who watches the early scenes where a 17-year-old girl is trotted out as goods for matchmaking purposes and the two male heads of the family control the proceedings, should realize that this is a patriarchal society. Don't be misled by the fact that the professional matchmaker is a woman and that the hero's mother is a firm believer in sexist customs; if some women didn't hold sexist beliefs, sexism wouldn't exist. Note that the 17 year-old's mother is a widow, but her uncle controls the matchmaking decisions instead of her mother. The male protagonist is harmed by *patriarchal* customs, make no mistake. These customs harm both women and men.
I thought this movie achieved two remarkable things: First, it defies
conventional categorization. It is a comedy and a family drama and a
steamy romance. It manages to transcend geography as well: This could
have easily taken place in the US, Italy or any one of a number of
Second, I thought that each scene was surprising and inventive and unexpected. I could not have predicted what was going to happen next, but each successive scene made perfect sense.
I highly recommend this movie to fearless moviegoers who value clever plotting and ingenuity.
I thought this was an interesting film, though it didn't cover as much of
the relationship between the guy and his family. As an ethnic Korean male,
can understand family pressure on marriage and to marry someone who will
in. The good thing about the film was the end, as unlike most Hollywood
fare, the ending was very realistic in that it didn't fall into cliche and
the like. It presented the probable ending as opposed to the sentimental
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
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...
"Late Marriage (Hatuna Meuheret)" makes "Monsoon Wedding" seem like a
commercial Hollywood flick in comparison in dealing with a similar
theme -- families imposing traditional marriage on an adult son in
This film is an intense and heartbreaking examination of a Georgian Russian immigrant family pushing tradition on an older son in very modern Israel. Through a very gradual unveiling as we learn more and more about each member of the family and relationships, every character is strongly individually wrought, flaws and all, complex sympathies and all.
The blunt scenes demonstrating traditional relationships are paralleled with extremely frank contemporary ones.
I thought at first that the lack of a soundtrack virtually up until the closing scene was due to writer/director Dover Koshashvili's obvious minuscule budget. Instead the closing band music punctuates a bittersweet, ironic tension-builder as the audience waits anxiously to see how the central figure of Zaza/Dooby resolved his unresolvable philosophical, familial and romantic dilemmas amidst very competitive, strong-willed women.
The sub-titles are sub-par; it's awkward, for example, to translate "Shalom" as peace be with you as it's really more just colloquial hello.
(originally written 5/24/2002)
Absolutely superb film, concise and to the point.
One of the things that I liked the most is how the writer/director, takes an obviously ethnic film and presents it in a way where people around the world can empathize even if they know nothing about the jewish culture or customs.
The emotional themes presented in this film are mostly universal, when it comes to marriage, in my opinion a lot of factors come into play no matter what culture you come from, and this film portrays in some ways how silly it all is.
If you don't mind the subtitles, is a great film, has great characters and a very interesting story line, although is very graphic at times (Steamy love scenes) be forewarned if you don't like to see nudity, is not your conventional hollywood soft porn b movie.
Enjoy the film with friends, it's one of those that makes you ask all the right questions.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
SPOILERS probably ahead.
I think this is one of the darkest movies I've ever seen. The review that I read beforehand talked of an "unexpected" ending, and like most people I imagine, I was expecting Zaza to do something drastic. Perhaps what he did do was the most drastic thing.
Much can be made of the fact of the conflict of tradition vs. youth or whatever, but really the movie is about a young person unable to believe in his own feelings and ideas. Never does Zaza try to insist that this is the woman he wants. To his parents, the woman he loves is just someone he is screwing around with, because he never tells them differently. Even at 31, working on a doctorate, he is just a spoiled child.
Others responded that they simply didn't identify with Zaza or that he was too "simple". What could be more complex than someone who lets what he loves be taken away from him? He unlocks the door to his lover's building so that his parents can come up and destroy his relationship.
This is all too real, all too human.
I find the ending ingenious. Instead of a normal, fantastic movie ending, we are hit with reality.
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