Top

The Wedding Plan (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

August 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Rama Burshtein has crafted an entertaining romantic comedy that is unpredictable, fresh and a wonderful performance from actress Noa Koler.  “The Wedding Plan” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Norma Productions, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: The Wedding Plan

YEAR OF FILM: 2017

DURATION: 110 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:85:1 widescreen, Hebrew 5.1 Dolby Digital with Audio with Available English Subtitles, Subtitles: English, Spanish

RATED: PG (Thematic Elements)

COMPANY: Lions Gate

AVAILABLE ON: September 5, 2017


Directed by Rama Burshtein

Written by Rama Burshtein

Produced by Assad Amir

Co-Produced: Adar Shafran

Associate Producer: Tammy Cohen

Music by Roy Edri

Cinematography by Amit Yasur

Edited by Yael Hersonski

Art Direction by Uri Aminov

Costume Design: Hava Levi Rozelsky


Starring:

Noa Koler as Michal

Amos Tamam as Shimi

Oz Zehavi as Yos

Irit Sheleg as Sosh, Michal’s Mother

Ronny Merhavi as Feggie

Dafi Shoshana Alpern as Noam, Michal’s Sister

Oded Leopold as Assaf

Udi Persi as Ronen, Blind Date

Jonathan Rozen as Alon, Blind Date (Deaf)


THE WEDDING PLAN is a poignant and funny romantic comedy about love, marriage, and faith in life’s infinite possibilities. Michal, blindsided by her fiancé’s decision to call off their wedding with only a month’s notice, is unwilling to return to single life. Michal decides to put her trust in fate and continue with her wedding plans, believing Mr. Right will appear by her chosen date. As the day of the ceremony grows closer and no suitor appears, Michal puts everything on the line to find happiness.


From filmmaker Rama Burshtein (“Fill the Void”) comes her Israeli film “Laavor et hakir” (a.k.a. “Through the Wall”) and will be released on DVD in North America with the title, “The Wedding Plan”.

Screened at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival and earning actress Noa Koler the “Best Actress” award at the Haifa International Film Festival 2016.  And the film opened in the U.S. back in May 2017 and received positive reviews from film critics nationwide.

The film begins with Michal (portrayed by Noa Koler), an Orthodox Jewish woman in her early 30s and notices that her fiance is not being straightforward with her.  When she pushes him to tell her what is wrong, at first he refuses, but after plenty of cajoling by Michal, he tells her the truth…he is not in love with her.

And their wedding which is called off.

Determined to marry 22 days later on the eighth night of Hannukkah, the film is about Michal in despair, trying to find someone to marry her.

Michal goes to a fortune teller (portrayed by Odelia Moreh-Matalon) and tells her the truth that she wants to be married, wants a man that she can love and loves her.  And the fortune teller tells her that her dreams will come true and she recommends her to seeing her son Shimi (portrayed by Amos Tamam), a man who runs a wedding hall in Jerusalem.  And Shimi tells her that he would give her a discount if she gets married at his wedding hall.

And so Michal decides rent a hall and continues to prepare for a marriage despite not having a man to marry and to continue as originally planned and leaves it up to God to decide on her groom.

Michal goes on several dates and meets a man who vows to not look a woman in the face if she is not his wife.  She meets a deaf man (portrayed by Jonathan Rozen) that she had refused to meet earlier.  And during a pilgrimate to Nachman of Breslov, she meets a man named Yoss (portrayed by Oz Zehavi), who happens to be an Israeli pop star.

But as the wedding date approaches, will Michal get married to anyone?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“The Wedding Plan” is presented in 1:85:1 and is presented in Hebrew 5.1 Dolby Digital. For the most part, picture quality is good as it gets on DVD.  Closeups show good detail, outdoor scenes are vibrant and for the most part, I didn’t notice any major artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of the film.

Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Wedding Plan” comes with a photo gallery and trailer.

EXTRAS:

“The Wedding Plan” comes with a slipcover.


One of the things that I love about foreign films is to learn about culture and perspectives from other countries.  And Rama Burshtein has given us a look at arranged marriages and with her 2012 film “Fill the Void”, she gave us a perspective of a young Hasidic Jewish woman pressured into an arranged marriage to an older widower.

In 2016, Rama Burshtein tackles the topic of marriage again with her romantic comedy “The Wedding Plan”.

The film revolves around a Jewish Orthodox woman named Michal who wants to be married, wants to love and wants to be loved by a man.

And when her fiance calls of their wedding a month before their actual wedding date, this sends Michal in a path of despair.  Not wanting to cancel her marriage and is determined to get married on the date of her marriage, with the support of her family and friends, Michal goes on various dates with men who also want to be married.

But nothing goes as planned in these dates as the men she meets are not interested in her and her wanting to meet with these men is not much for love but more for despair.

And as the days near her wedding date, Michal starts to become unsure whether or not she will get married.  Will she get married?

Featuring a wonderful performance by actress Noa Koler and a soundtrack with great music, “The Wedding Plan” is unique that it’s not formulaic by any means.  Most of the time, with most films, you expect the protagonist to meet the right person they want to marry, run into complications but yet they get married.

This is not so with “The Wedding Plan”.  Until the film gets to the end, you really don’t know if Michal will marry.  And so, the film still remains fresh and leaves the viewer wondering, will she or won’t she get married?

As for the DVD, picture and audio quality good as one can expect on DVD.  Closeups look very good, outdoor scenes are vibrant, dialogue and music is crystal clear and there are few special features included such as a photo gallery and theatrical trailer.

Overall, Rama Burshtein has crafted an entertaining romantic comedy that is unpredictable, fresh and a wonderful performance from actress Noa Koler.  “The Wedding Plan” is recommended!


Fill the Void (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

September 8, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

loveisallyouneed

Rama Burshtein’s “Fill the Void” is a rare and groundbreaking film that captures the complexity of love, emotion and sacrifice.  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2012, 2013 Norma Productions Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Fill the Void

YEAR OF FILM: 2012

DURATION: 90 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 2:35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Hebrew 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, French

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RATED: PG (For Mild Thematic Elements and Brief Smoking)

RELEASE DATE: September 10, 2013

Directed by Rama Burshtein

Written by Rama Burshtein

Produced by Assaf Amir

Music by Yitzhak Azulay

Cinematography by Asaf Sudri

Edited by Sharon Elovic

Casting by Michal Koren

Art Direction by Uri Aminov

Costume Design by Hani Gurevitch

Starring:

Hadas Yaron as Shira

Yiftach Klein as Yochay

Irit Sheleg as Rivka

Chayim Sharir as Aharon

Razia Israeli as Aunt Hanna

Hila Feldman as Frieda

Renana Raz as Esther

Yael Tai as Shifi

Michael David Weigi as Shtreicher

Ido Samuel as Yossi

Neta Moran as Bilha

Melech Thal as Rabbi

Fill the Void tells the story of an eighteen-year-old Shira who is the youngest daughter of her family. Her dreams are about to come true as she is set to be married off to a promising young man. Unexpectedly, her sister, Esther, dies while giving birth to her first child. The pain that overwhelm the family postpone Shira’s promised match. Everything changes when an offer is proposed to match Yochay, the late Esther’s husband, to a widow from Belgium. When the girls’ mother finds out that Yochay may leave the country with her only grandchild, she proposes a match between Shira and the widower. Shira will have to choose between her heart’s wish and her family duty.

When it comes to media and Hasidic Judaism, not much is really known about the individuals and the community is often seen as private and mysterious.

For filmmaker Rama Burshtein, a woman who is part of the Haredi Jewish community in Tel Aviv, Israel, her goal was to show the artistic side of the community and thus the film “Fill the Void” was born.

The winner of seven Ophir Awards including best director and best film, Burshtein’s award-winning film will be released on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics in Sept. 2013.

The film would star Hadas Yaron (“Out of Sight”), Yiftach Klein (“Policeman”), Irit Sheleg, Chayim Sharir and Razia Israeli..

“Fill the Void” begins with 18-year-old Shira Mendelman (portrayed by Hadas Yaron) with her mother as they go to meet potential suitors and is to be married to a young man that she likes.  On the day of Purim (a Jewish holiday), while her pregnant older sister Esther (portrayed by Renana Raz) arrives with her husband Yochay (portrayed by Yiftach Klein), Esther seems that she is having pain and when she goes into the bathroom, people noticed she has not come out.

We find out that Esther has died but the baby was saved.  As for Shira’s engagement, the father delays it due to Esther’s death and Shira and her mother Rivka (portrayed by Irit Sheleg) help Yochay raise the baby, Mordechai.

One day, Yochay’s mother asks Rivka if Shira would be willing to marry Yochay as it would be best for Mordechai and so far, the plan is to have Yochay marry a widow in Belgium.  The thought that her grandson would be taken away to another country and their only link to Esther would be gone, Rivka decides to not have Shira marry the man that she liked but for her to marry Yochay.

For Shira, she is torn by her heart to marry someone she likes and love and her obligation to family.  What will she do?

VIDEO, AUDIO AND SUBTITLES:

“Fill the Void” is presented in 2:35:1 and picture quality is good as one can expect from DVD.  The soundtrack which is presented in Hebrew 5.1 Dolby Digital is clear and understandable while English and French subtitles are easy to read.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fill the Void” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with filmmaker Rama Burshtein and Hadas Yaron.
  • Writer’s Bloc Q&A – (16:59) A Q&A with director Rama Burshtein and Hadas Yaron.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (2:07) Theatrical trailer for “Fill the Void”

While I know there are some who are Jewish would say this film would appeal and be more understood by those who practice Judaism, my approach to “Fill the Void” was with curiosity.

My feelings toward the film was how real and genuine the story and the performance was.  Costume design looked authentic but the storyline of arranged marriages and a person torn by what she feels in her heart and family obligations is not so far from what I have seen within other families who practice arranged marriages for their  adult children.

The film is about genuine feelings, an insight to the Hassidic community but exploring characters with genuine emotions.  Shira is an 18-year-old who looks forward to her marriage to another man that she will like.  But after her oldest sister’s death and because her mother does not want her grandchild far from the family, the family wants Shira to marry Yochay, the love of her eldest sister Esther, but it’s not her love.

There is no emphasis on the beauty of surroundings, but the focus on the capturing of emotion.  To capture realism, even though it’s cinema.  Long takes and what better than to capture human turmoil through a person’s thought and chance of love, being taken away for one to make a decision solely based on family.

While some people can’t fathom one thinking such a thing too choose family over love in a modern society, the fact is that many do.  May it be religious or cultural reasons, arranged marriages still happen today.  But unlike other marriages where a woman is not allowed to say no.  For “Fill the Void”, Shira is a woman who has a voice and this marriage, hinges on her answer. Will she accept it for family?  Or will she follow her heart?

Hadas Yaron is absolutely wonderful in her portrayal of Shira.  Realistic, natural, not overacted and a perfectly cast for the role.  It’s a role that calls for a subdued young woman, an older teenager who now has a chance of finding love according to her religion.  But it’s when her character is asked to make hard decisions, this is the moment where Hadas Yarron shines.

As for filmmaker Rama Burshtein, it’s great that she is the first Orthodox Jewish woman to direct a film about Haredi Jewish community but to also get the support to shoot in the community.  The fact is that the world sees the community as very private but within that community, there is so many positive aspects and talents that many people outside of the community don’t get to see.  So, this film is a groundbreaking film but also a film that I found as natural but also very real.

As for the DVD, picture and audio quality is good as one can expect on DVD but also featuring an insightful audio commentary by filmmaker Rama Burshtein and actress Hadas Yaron, including a media Q&A with the two.

Overall, Rama Burshtein’s “Fill the Void” is a rare and groundbreaking film that captures the complexity of love, emotion and sacrifice.  Recommended!

 

With


Bottom