December 13, 2002 -- A lot of people have experienced meddling family members, but "Late Marriage" ("Hatuna Meuheret") is a film about the meddling family from Hell. They are your worst nightmare.
Zaza (played by Lior Ashkenazi), a member of Georgian community of Tel Aviv, is in love with Judith (Ronit Elkabetz), a beautiful Moroccan divorced mother of one. His family does not approve, and he tries to keep the affair a secret. His family wants him to marry a young virgin, not a divorced woman who is older than he is. The family arranges visits to a number of young girls, and wonders why he is not interested in any of them.
Eventually, the family finds out about the affair and the family arrives in force to confront Zaza and Judith. It is a very intense, hostile, vulgar, bitter scene. How will it be resolved? This film has been described as a comedy, but it isn't all that funny. It is also not that straightforward in the way it portrays any of the characters. Zaza's family seems cruel at first when they confront Zaza and Judith, but they later show a softer side and a more balanced view of the affair. Instead of a black and white issue, this film portrays this family crisis in subtle shades of gray. Rather than take sides on this family dispute, as most American films would do, this French/Israeli production is fairly even-handed in its approach. Both the view of the lovers and the view of the family are given equal weight in the film.
"Late Marriage" has the look of a stage play. There are a lot of static set ups, not much camera movement, and most of the scenes take place indoors with people who don't move around much. In most cases, they are seated. The characters in the movie also seem to be stiff and formal most of the time. Nothing seems spontaneous. On the other hand there is an extended sex scene that features full frontal nudity. This film rates a C. It should be noted this is not a Hollywood film and it doesn't share the popular notion of romantic love that we have come to expect in most films. The film's soundtrack is recorded in the Georgian and Hebrew languages with English subtitles. It is Israel's official entry in the U.S. Academy Awards and it won nine Isralei academy awards.
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