7.3/10
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11 user 19 critic

The Matchmaker (2010)

Once I Was (original title)
During the summer of 1968 a teenage boy goes to work for a matchmaker who has survived the Holocaust - both their lives are forever altered.

Director:

Avi Nesher

Writers:

Amir Gutfreund (novel), Avi Nesher (screenplay)
4 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Adir Miller ... Yankele Bride
Maya Dagan ... Clara Epstein
Dror Keren ... Meir the Librarian
Tuval Shafir Tuval Shafir ... Arik Burstein
Neta Porat Neta Porat ... Tamara
Bat-El Papura ... Sylvia
Dov Navon ... Yozi Burstein
Yarden Bar-Kochba ... Nili Burstein (as Yarden Bar Kochva)
Yael Levental ... Tikva Abadi (as Yael Leventhal)
Kobi Farag ... Moshe Abadi (as Kobi Faraj)
Tom Gal Tom Gal ... Benny Abadi
Eli Yatzpan ... Uncle Nadgi
Eyal Shehter Eyal Shehter ... Arik Burstein (Adult) (as Eyal Schechter)
Ya'ackov Bodo ... Advocate Segelson (as Yaacov Bodo)
Tair Leah Arad Tair Leah Arad ... Michal Abadi
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Storyline

During the summer of 1968 a teenage boy goes to work for a matchmaker who has survived the Holocaust - both their lives are forever altered.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

He gets you what you need, not what you want!

Genres:

Drama

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Authors mentioned by Meir and Arik in the library include Dashiell Hammett, Ernest Hemingway, Shmuel Yosef Agnon (1888 -1970; Nobel Prize laureate writer and a major figure of modern Hebrew writing) and Yehiel Dinur (1909 - 2001; also spelled Dinoor or De-Nur; also known by his pen name Ka-Tsetnik, a Jewish writer and Holocaust survivor). See more »

Goofs

Arik has a promotional picture of John Wayne from the film, "The Cowboys:", on his wall. This film was not released until i972, 4 years after this film's setting. See more »

Crazy Credits

Composer Philippe Sarde wishes to dedicate his score in memory of his grandmother Marie. See more »

Connections

References The Graduate (1967) See more »

Soundtracks

The High Windows
(uncredited?)
Performed by Yehezkel
Vocals by Arik Einstein, Josie Katz
Guitars and vocals by Shmulik Kraus
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User Reviews

 
Not an easy film for a non-Israeli to review
26 July 2011 | by Red-125See all my reviews

The Israeli movie Once I Was (Pa'am Hayiti) was shown in the US with the title The Matchmaker (2010). It was written and directed by Avi Nesher. The film was very popular in Israel, where it won four Israeli Academy Awards. The other reviewers of this film are either Israelis or are familiar with Israeli culture, so they can do a better job than I can discussing the reality of the movie. For example, it is set in the seaport of Haifa in 1968, and there are questions about the authenticity of the sets and the accents. I will leave these topics to the experts.

I'm reviewing the film more on its plot and acting. The plot is fascinating. A Holocaust survivor, Yankele Bride (Adir Miller) is a smuggler and petty criminal. That's his profession, but his hobby is matchmaking. His job is to find mates for people who, for whatever reason, are considered undesirable.

The saddest of these people is a young woman, Sylvia, who is very beautiful but has achondroplasia. (The role is played by the extraordinary actress Bat-El Papura.) Sylva wants to be married, but no person of normal height will consider her as a spouse. Even the hapless character called Meir the Librarian turns away from Sylvia when he meets her. Yankele does his best for her, but he never succeeds.

The most obvious theme of the movie is a coming-of-age story of Arik Burstein (Tuval Shafir), whose father is also a Holocaust survivor. Arik starts work as Yankele's "spy," the person who checks out the matchmaker's clients to make sure that they are who and what they say they are. (There's another theme about a visiting American cousin, who is a liberated young woman, but that subplot never goes anywhere.)

The key theme, as I saw it, is that Holocaust survivors were welcomed to Israel, but they weren't admired or honored. As Arik's father says, "people always want to know what we had to do in order to survive." The clash of cultures--eastern European survivors who were seen as victims vs. Israelis who had fought for independence--is in the background of the entire movie. (Sometimes this clash is overt, sometimes it's subtle, but it's always there.)

Of course, Arik is impressed by the brash, streetwise Yankele, as opposed to his own quiet, respectable father. We are supposed to be impressed by Yankele too, because his criminal activities are treated as amusing foibles. I don't think that smuggling goods into Israel was an appropriate way to thank the country that took you in, but he is definitely a likable character in the movie. Each viewer will have to decide about Yankele for herself or himself.

I liked this film well enough to suggest that it's worth seeing if it comes along. I'm not sure it's a movie I would seek out for viewing. We saw The Matchmaker at the excellent Rochester Jewish Film Festival, screened at the wonderful Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House. It will work equally well on a small screen.


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Details

Country:

Israel

Language:

Hebrew

Release Date:

17 August 2012 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A házasságközvetítõ See more »

Filming Locations:

Haifa, Israel

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,150,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,920
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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