Sunday, May 29, 2011

LATE MARRIAGE (Dover Koshashvili, 2001)

****½
Israel
Despite healthy box office and fervent acclaim, this extra tragicomic Israeli tragicomedy was never released in Australia. So it has taken me an unforgivable amount of years to get around to it.

As a piece of filmmaking, it's a little rough around the edges (it has that primarily-writer first-time director haze), but as a piece of drama, it is astounding:

Romantic love and stone-set orthodox tradition are pitched against each other in an unhinged life-or-death smackdown when a 31-year-old bachelor from a garishly conservative Haifa household secretly engages in steamy, disarmingly and ingeniously detailed sex with a single mother, all while ostensibly courting pedigreed, school-aged virgins primped for marriage.

Though hilarity abounds, there are extended, masterfully calibrated sequences of emotional violence that leave you breathless. Koshashvili though, isn't one to get off on the shock and scandal he is eliciting. At every moment he is busy parsing through the knotty mess he has conjured up for telling social and character detail, his observations pitched at a laudable balance between caustic and empathetic.

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