Sometimes I think romantic comedies are all about getting that one clever tag line. In the case of this movie, it’s actually a pretty good one. And to be honest, it’s nice to see a decent movie about a segment of the population rarely seen on film.
The Wedding Plan comes from writer/director Rama Burshtein who formerly did the movie Fill the Void, which I also quite liked. This is also a movie looking into the world of ultra-religious “Haredi” Jews in Israel and their marriage customs, which often seem opaque to outsiders. Michal (Noa Koler or Kooler or Koller depending on the transliteration from Hebrew) is 32 years old and thus desperate to get married, especially in the context of the highly religious community.
When she finally meets someone and gets engaged, everything seems fine until it’s about a month until the wedding. And then her fiancé drops a terrible bombshell: he doesn’t love her. So with 22 days left, Michal decides that instead of cancelling the wedding, she’ll hold onto the reservations, send out invitations, and hire a wedding singer. She decides to trust in God that if she has faith in his Ineffable Plan, she will find a groom in time to get married as scheduled on the last day of Hannukah.
So Michal begins to search for possible grooms with matchmaker after matchmaker, going on series of odd, unusual, difficult, and usually awful blind dates. Her mother and sister are worried of course, but Michal keeps going, arranging things with the wedding singer and tasting food for the wedding with nobody yet. Michal struggles despite it all, wondering about her faith and her future.
But she makes some connections, with a handsome older man that may be too rational to consider a rush marriage in a month, and even, with a chance encounter, an actual famous singer Yos (Oz Zehavi). There’s an odd sort of rapport between the super religious, superstitious Michal, who’s only finding work at a mobile petting zoo, and the entirely secular, charming, but philosophically inclined pop star.
So the days get shorter and the wedding date draws ever nearer, the tension increases and you begin to wonder who she might end up with, or perhaps what alternative happy ending she’ll receive. Ultimately, the ending may be cheesy for some, but I found it kind of moving.
Noa Koler was very charming in this movie, playing a part that’s part mad, part sincere, and part afraid. As the emotional and narrative center, everything drove on following along with her crazy scheme that’s a leap of faith. And although at times we find it difficult to believe as she does, just like her friends and family, the strength of her presence keeps the story going.
The humor comes from the little moments and dates, but the drama comes from the tension Michal puts on herself, one that is tied directly into her faith. It’s a different kind of romance, one where the ending isn’t entirely clear. But if you can handle the subtitles and are interested in a different sort of rom-com, this one is pretty good.
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The Wedding Plan has a running time of 1 hour 50 minutes, and is rated PG for thematic elements.