The Wedding Plan (Roadside Attractions, PG-13)

The Wedding Plan is not your typical rom-com, because there really is something at stake.

Michal (Noa Koler) is a single woman whose number one goal in life is to get married. You probably think you’ve heard that story before, but you haven’t, at least not the way it is told in Rama Burshtein’s The Wedding Plan. Complicating matters are the facts that Michal is 32 years old and an Orthodox Jew in Israel, so the stakes are much higher for her than for, say, an American woman who has a serious career and lots of single friends. To further complicate matters, Michal will not settle for any old marriage—it has to be with the right marriage, with the right person, or she’s not having any of it.

As The Wedding Plan begins, Michal and her fiancé Gidi (Erez Drigues) are at the banquet hall where they plan to hold the wedding, testing dishes brought out by the hall owner, Shimi (Amos Tamam). It should be a happy occasion for the bride- and groom-to-be, but something seems off, and before long Gidi confides to Michal that he does not love her. He’s willing to go forward with the marriage anyway, but she’s not, and that’s the end of that relationship.

At this point, you might shrug your shoulders and say there are plenty more fish in the sea, but Michal makes things more interesting. She decides to keep her wedding date, just 22 days away, and will rely on God to send her an appropriate bridegroom by that day. So she pays for the banquet hall, sends out invitations, and gets fitted for a dress, all while going on a variety of blind dates arranged by matchmakers in the hopes that one of them will be her Mr. Right.

Michal also takes a pilgrimage to Ukraine to visit the grave of Rabbi Nachman, founder of the Breslov branch of the Hasidim, where she most improbably meets an Israeli pop star named Yoss (Oz Zehavi). Even more improbably, he falls for her. He’s tall and handsome and a very sweet guy, but insufficiently religious to meet her stringent requirements. The other prospective bridegrooms fail for a variety of reasons, providing some of the funniest moments in this film. Michal has a support crew, including her mother (Irit Sheleg), sister (Dafi Alpern), and best friend (Ronny Merhavi), and while they may at times be exasperated by her seemingly contradictory behavior, they also accept her as she is and want her to be happy.

The success of The Wedding Plan rests largely on Koler’s performance. Performed by a lesser actress, Michal could be so irritating that you’d quickly lose patience with her as she sets one obstacle after another in her own path. But Koler’s Michal is a woman who is above all true to herself, and while she may not be just like anyone else in her community (the fact that her occupation is running a petting zoo should be evidence enough on that score), she’s not willing to tamp down her personality in order to fit in.

I’m not usually a big fan of rom-coms because they often seem like much ado about not very much, particularly when set in modern America with central characters young enough that there’s no real urgency for them to tie the knot. But The Wedding Plan is not your typical rom-com, because there really is something at stake: Until she’s married, Michal can’t take her rightful place as an adult within her own community. That reality gives the story an edge that makes the humor funnier and the pain sharper, and gives meaning to the many twists and turns on Michal’s journey. | Sarah Boslaugh

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply