Late Marriage

Russian-born Israeli director Dover Koshashvili's debut begins as a dryly played, rather stark romantic comedy about a hapless bachelor and his domineering family, but ends as something quite different: An emotionally rich and decidedly downbeat portrait of an unhappy marriage in the making. Zaza (Lior Ashkenazi) is 31, smart and good-looking, but as far...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Russian-born Israeli director Dover Koshashvili's debut begins as a dryly played, rather stark romantic comedy about a hapless bachelor and his domineering family, but ends as something quite different: An emotionally rich and decidedly downbeat portrait of an unhappy marriage in the making. Zaza (Lior Ashkenazi) is 31, smart and good-looking, but as far as his gruff father, Yasha (Moni Moshonov), is concerned he's a downright disgrace. Not only is Zaza still in school — he's working toward a doctorate in philosophy — but he's still single. To remedy the situation, Yasha, Zaza's mother, Lily (Lili Koshashvili, the director's mother), and just about every aunt, uncle and in-law in Haifa's Georgian emigré community conspire to introduce Zaza to any young girl they consider a suitable marriage prospect, meaning "nice" girls from decent-enough families. But Zaza has already made arrangements of his own: He's fallen in love with Judith (Ronit Elkabetz), a beautiful divorcée whom he helps support but doesn't dare introduce to his parents, because Judith isn't exactly what they would consider "nice." She's three years older than Zaza, divorced and raising a young daughter, Madona (Sapir Klugman), who adores her mother's boyfriend. When Yasha, Lily and a posse of in-laws stage an ambush to nip this highly unsuitable match in the bud, the scene quickly turns ugly and the film takes a serious, wrenching turn. Judith is humiliated by her lover's family, and Zaza is forced to choose between the safety net his family continues to provide and the passionate, deeply romantic love he shares with Judith. Adding further poignancy to his predicament are intimations that Yasha once faced a similar choice, and his decision has left neither Lily nor himself particularly happy. This superbly played film, directed with remarkable skill for a first-time feature filmmaker, is truly an adult drama: It deals with the kind of compromises and sacrifices that, for better or worse, come with maturity. Koshashvili also makes effective use of explicit sexuality to enrich his story without ever appearing the slightest bit lewd. (In Georgian and Hebrew, with subtitles.)

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  • Released: 2001
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Russian-born Israeli director Dover Koshashvili's debut begins as a dryly played, rather stark romantic comedy about a hapless bachelor and his domineering family, but ends as something quite different: An emotionally rich and decidedly downbeat portrait o… (more)

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