LATE MARRIAGE (2001)
On its face, Dover Kosashvili’s Late Marriage concerns issues that may seem quite alien to you and me. It’s the story of a 31-year-old Israeli man named Zaza (Lior Ashkenazi, recently seen in Footnote) whose very traditional parents are attempting to arrange a marriage for him. The prospective brides include girls who have not yet graduated high school. However, Zaza’s lack of interest stems not from moral disgust but from the fact that he already has a girlfriend. He has been dating a 35-year-old divorced woman named Judith (Ronit Elkabetz) who has a daughter. To Zaza’s family, this is unacceptable and outrageous. Understandably, Zaza is devastated and torn. In addition to the intellectual sympathy we feel, Kosashvili gets us emotionally wrapped up in the film’s proceedings. He does so first by achieving immediacy through naturalism, most notably in the film’s somewhat famous sex scene. The intimacy we witness between Zaza and Judith is relaxed, casual and funny but also conspicuously less sexy than our cinematically trained eyes are accustomed to expect. This is a sexual encounter between two people for whom such activities are common. They have become unselfconscious and comfortable with each other’s bodies and their own. We may not recognize this scene from other movies but we more than likely recognize it from our own lives. In a broader sense, though, Kosashvili makes things relatable by locating the universal root in the tale. As foreign to us as Zaza’s family is, the existence of grown men who are still too scared of their parents’ disapproval to live their own lives is prevalent in our culture and others. As such, Late Marriage is both an intense look into another world and one that is strikingly close to home.