Writer-director Rama Burshtein takes a novel approach to the marriage-minded romantic comedy genre in “The Wedding Plan” in that she strips out the marriage, the romance and the comedy.
Her unique film is a dense, complex look at one woman’s search for love when her engagement is terminated a month before her wedding — and yet she goes ahead with the planning, confident God will provide her a substitute.
The film hinges on the central performance of Noa Koler as Michal, a woman, who at 32, has decided it’s now or never. When her fiance admits he doesn’t love her, she enlists the help of a matchmaker and leans on the support of her friends.
“You can’t get married without a groom!” her mother (Irit Sheleg) protests.
“There will be one,” Michal replies. “I’m 100 percent sure God will find one.”
There are a series of bad first dates, desperate passes at old friends — including a dreamy pop star (Oz Zehavi), but Burshtein — who explored arranged marriage in 2012’s “Fill the Void” — and Koler studiously avoid cliches. Instead, “The Wedding Plan” is a complex rumination on the nature of true love and how it evolves. It is also a film rooted in Orthodox Jewish faith.
You might not agree with Burshtein’s thoughts on love and relationships (or you might), but either way, it is thought-provoking.
And it isn’t preachy. There actually is comedy and romance; it’s just not a movie that panders. Koler has a plain-Jane-yet-attractive magnetism worthy of Nia Vardalos that makes you root for her all the way. In the end, “The Wedding Plan” is very much a crowd-pleaser, but one that feels earned and hard-won.
In Hebrew with English subtitles
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The Wedding Plan
☆☆☆☆ (out of five)
Director: Rama Burnstein
Cast: Noa Koler, Dafi Alferon
Rated: PG (thematic elements)
Running time: 110 min.