[WEDDING DOLL (2015)]
This may be the most important film I’ve ever reviewed.
And it also may be the most beautiful film I’ve ever seen.
Cinema challenges us to drop our prejudices.
And so, this is the first Israeli film in Hebrew I’ve ever written about.
We must give each side their chance.
And we must stop seeing each other as “sides”.
To the best of my pathetic ability, I am going to attempt to describe a work of cinematic art that I have no right to enjoy.
Wedding Doll is a film which may change your opinions of Israelis.
I must keep my mind very focused to do it justice.
Because our aim is art.
Our aim is beauty.
And my main aim is love.
We learn from our peers and our forebears what is right and cool.
We take on archetypes.
We try them on like hats.
Or like dresses.
And we feel comfortable in these metaphorical garments.
Because someone has blazed the path before us.
But the great humans take a step on their own.
If I take faltering steps, then I give the glory to God who has guided me even in such meager efforts.
Let me tell you about this film which celebrates harmony in our tearstained world.
First of all is due all credit to the director: Nitzan Gilady.
His direction is on par with the great Kiarostami.
But it is equally on par with the great Ingmar Bergman.
It is that good!
Our story takes place in the Negev Desert.
And it behooves us out of an abundance of humanity to place the Negev in a new perspective.
This film does just that.
We see the Makhtesh Ramon.
A crater caused by water erosion.
Unique to Israel and Egypt.
And Makhtesh Ramon (makhtesh meaning “mortar grinder” in Hebrew…as in mortar and pestle) is the perfect analogy for this film.
In a mortar, things are ground up and crushed by the pestle.
Useful, lifesaving things like medicine.
But for the characters in our film, their circumstances are crushing them.
And like in life, some substances will be healing…and some poison.
Perhaps God is the great pharmacist.
I believe that to be so.
But let it be known: there is not a single mention of God in this film.
And that is fine.
Because God speaks through his creation.
Let me please tell you about the wonderful actors who make this film sheer magic.
Above all is the astounding, stupendous, beautiful genius Moran Rosenblatt.
Her character, Hagit, is 24.
She is obsessed with getting married.
But she is also “special”.
It is a sad story.
She was apparently the victim of a head or neck injury at a young age.
At the hands of childhood bullies (it is intimated).
So she is developmentally disabled.
I hope I have worded it the right way.
Because no person deserves more deference than this character.
Rosenblatt makes her come alive as the most joyous, glowing human being imaginable.
But sadness is all around.
Hagit has unreasonable expectations of life.
Considering her situation.
Especially regarding employment.
And I can certainly understand.
She has a dream.
Her wedding dolls made out of toilet paper are miniature works of art, but she longs to be a fashion designer and work in a bridal shop.
As is the case with every human, we often cannot see our own limitations.
We push. We dream.
And sometimes we are crushed by the cold reality of a world which doesn’t understand.
But one guy understands.
And he is Hagit’s coworker at a factory.
With just two employees.
A toilet paper factory in Israel.
What could have been maudlin in the hands of a lesser director is transformed into pure poetry by Nitzan Gilady.
But he needed the genius of Moran Rosenblatt.
And she needed help.
Roy Assaf is wonderful as Omri.
Omri watches out for Hagit the best he can.
He has good intentions.
Perhaps he is not perfect, but he brings Hagit so much happiness.
And yet his best efforts are unsustainable.
Only God can perform miracles.
Fortunately for Hagit, she has a mother who would go to the ends of the Earth for her.
Assi Levy plays her mother, Sara.
This is a lady who cleans rooms at a local hotel.
A very small town.
In the desert.
And a lady who sits by the washing machines and hot dryers perhaps in the basement of the same hotel.
Washing bedsheets and blankets and towels.
Sara devotes her whole life to her disabled daughter.
[the father is not around]
Hagit is simply not able to be on her own.
As much as Hagit wants that, the world is too cruel.
And Sara knows this.
She is protective of her little flower Hagit because her daughter is so kindhearted that she makes an easy target for unsavory individuals.
I will not tell you the plot twists.
I’ve probably said too much (to paraphrase Michael Stipe).
But this film is a masterpiece.
It is currently available on Netflix in the U.S. as Wedding Doll.
I have done my best to preserve the Hebrew title at the top.
If it is not visible, I apologize for the website template limitations.
My words cannot adequately do justice to the brilliance of this film.
And thus I will just leave you with its title.