Late Marriage (2002)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Family Drama, Comedy of Manners, Romantic Drama  |   Run Time - 98 min.  |   Countries - Israel   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Josh Ralske

From its opening moments, Dover Kosashvili's Late Marriage treads a fine and dangerous line. Kosashvili apparently has no fear of leaving the audience asking, "Is this supposed to be funny?" Of course, the same can be said for Amerindie darlings Neil LaBute and Todd Solondz, and while Late Marriage occasionally inspires the same queasy feelings as their work, Kosashvili is, in the end, a more honest filmmaker. He gets right into the world of these characters. He doesn't allow himself or the audience the luxury of simply looking down on them and feeling superior. Zaza (Lior Louie Ashkenazi) is intelligent, handsome, and charming, so Judith's (Ronit Elkabetz) attraction to him is believable. He has a sense of humor about his predicament. But he's also lazy, cynical, spoiled, self-involved, and infuriatingly passive. Kosashvili presents the film's eroticism as matter-of-factly as he does its family drama. But from Zaza's flirtation with a precocious 17-year-old to his passionate assignations with Judith, Kosashvili doesn't shy away from the seaminess of Zaza's romantic life. In the end, even the graphic sex scenes are infused with the feeling of ugliness that permeates the film. This feeling reaches its peak in the pivotal scene where Zaza's meddling family confronts Judith, and in the final wedding scene. The film can be seen as a dark comedy, but it's a challenging work that may not generate much laughter. Late Marriage throws the viewer off balance, looking blankly at a society ruled by misogynistic and inhumane traditions, and thus leaving the audience to make its own judgments, about both the behavior depicted and the filmmaker's intentions.