Late Marriage (Israel/France; 102min.)

directed by: Dover Koshashvili
starring: Lior Ashkenazi; Ronit Elkabetz; Moni Moshonov
Hatuna Meuheret
Diane says: "A disturbing film. What a disparity between the trailer and the film! I had written LATE MARRIAGE off as a stupid comedy until Janet disabused me.

"The mores of these Soviet Georgians immigrants in Israel do not allow a marriage between a younger man and an older woman, especially a divorced woman with a child. Very interesting to me, as this was a contentious issue for a friend of mine (her son, in the clutches of such a woman!), and in my own family (my nephew).

"Michael and Ellen are right about the ambivalence: I left the theater not knowing what is right. Koshavili is exposing 'the tyranny of tradition' said one review. And yet, it's not one-sided. So many conflicts within each character: those who support the tradition most strongly were themselves made unhappy because of it, but still feel its ultimate rightness....

"I hadn't noticed the stillness of the camera until I read Laura's review. Now I certainly remember it, in the scene between Zaza and the 17-year-old marriage prospect, in the very long sex scene, etc.

"Very well done." 4 cats
Ellen says: "On the way out of the movie, Michael noted that the movie billed itself as a comedy. I never would have thought that! I found the inability of the main character to follow his heart and be with the one he loved to be depressing so I had to rethink the movie. I guess I can see that, maybe, if I knew more about the culture (Georgian Jews living in Israel), I may have seen that the film was an exagerrated slapstick. I'm not sure yet what the director was trying to say either, but it was fascinating to catch a glimpse of the clannish, tradition-bound culture that this particular group lives in.

"Oh yes, since I still can't quite figure out whether to laugh or cry..." 3 cats
Laura says: "Georgian born Israeli writer/director Dover Kosashvili's feature debut won nine Israeli Academy Awards. This simply shot character study of tradition in the modern world takes place entirely in six small apartments - that of Zaza, his parents', their neighbors' and the matchmakers' within the same complex, that of the family of a bridal prospect and Judith's. It's telling that while there are only three exterior locations used, two are asphalt parking lots whereas the exterior outside of Judith's building is an exotic palm tree-lined sidewalk. Kosashvili places his camera and leaves it to simply record the interior action." 4 cats
For Laura's complete review: ""
Michael says: "How interesting that Nathaniel mentioned both this film and MONSOON WEDDING as two of the best films of 2002 since both of these films look at the same subject in different cultures with vastly different results.

"Like Mira Nair's glorious and uplifting MONSOON WEDDING, Dover Kosashvili's LATE MARRIAGE looks at marriage from the sometimes conflicting ideas of love vs. tradition. Zaza is 31, and his parents keep setting up interview after interview with prospective brides. The problem is, unbeknownst to his family, Zaza is already in love... with Ilana, a 34 year old divorcee with a young daughter. When the secret is revealed, Zaza finds himself torn between love for this woman, and the traditions and love of his family.

"It seems that Kosashvili is saying that life goes on, and that the cycle of tradition is very difficult to break. Whether he feels this is a good or bad thing is a little uncertain, or perhaps open to interpretation. Needless to say, unlike MONSOON WEDDING, which ends with an exultant high note despite some serious subplots, LATE MARRIAGE takes a darker, more cynical view of the struggle between older traditions and the emotions of youth. As the film's tagline states, "Sometimes love doesn't conquer all."

"The acting by the two principals, Lior Ashkenazi as Zaza and Aya Steinovits Laor as Ilana, is terrific, as they must convey the drama and emotion of a difficult situation. The older generation, while conveying very serious issues, is played slightly more for laughs with exaggerated threats and drama. Zaza's mother, curiously enough, is played by the real-life mother of the director, and her portrayal comes off very real... perhaps because she is not an actor.

"I highly recommend LATE MARRIAGE, and hope many of you manage to catch it." 4 cats

Nathaniel R. says: "Though Zaza or 'Dooby' as his girlfriend calls him, is a grown man who everyone treats like a boy, they're angry that he doesn't grow up. His family is maddened by his indifference to the bridal candidates they present to him. At the age of 31 his bachelor status has gone from embarassment to mini-scandal. Zaza himself is nonplused at their frustration. He has his own reasons. As we soon discover, Zaza's divorcee girlfriend is angry that he won't come clean about their relationship. Eventually, as is always the case, the truth will find a way out into the open. Zaza loves his girlfriend but he knows that his family won't approve. And how conditional exactly, is his family's love?

"That's the narrative premise in a nutshell -but the film is far more than a soap opera. The opening sequence clues you in to the film's subversive stance. It starts almost sitcom-like with an argument between a long-married couple in the bathroom. She is shampooing his hair, he is annoying her with too many demands. But instead of easy laughs you begin to suspect that there is no "cleansing laugh" (sitcom parlance for mean jokes that never hurt the characters) on its way. Their bond is purely legal, familial, and time bound. The years have all but eroded any life they once had beyond their unhappy union. The humor has bite and sting and flies fast and furious indicating the film's abrasive truth telling intent.

"This film is deeply troubling and not just because we're used to family being treated in a far more conventionally positive fashion. In most films a family unit, no matter how violent or dysfunctional it may be, is still in the end revealed as a beautiful thing. Late Marriage is savage, incisive, and altogether daring, and serves up something like the opposite. Even its elusive conclusion, which brings on a surprising number of contradictory responses in audiences (just read some reviews to get a sense of this), can be interpreted as an anti-family screed. This remarkable film is certain to resonate with anyone who has had a troubled, stifling, or confusing relationship with their families. It won't be easy to shake."

For Nathaniel's complete review: ""