This remarkable Israeli movie starts as a sweet romantic comedy: unmarried at 31, Zaza is an embarrassment to his family. Though they parade him past young, attractive, and eligible girls, he resists them all--because Zaza... more » already has a secret love affair with Judith, a divorcée. Zaza knows his parents would never accept Judith; but when his parents find out, the results are worse than either of them ever expected, leading to a harrowing and sad conclusion. Late Marriage has an amazing richness of character and honesty about their behavior. Every turn of the story is full of lively, unexpected details; there's not a predictable moment in the entire movie. The extensive sex scene between Zaza and Judith has an intimacy and dimension unseen in American movies. Quite simply, one of the best movies of 2001. --Bret Fetzer« less
"Zaza is a 31 year old Ph.D. student in Philosophy. His parents want him to get married soon. To this end, they've arrange meetings for their son to get acquainted with girls of Georgian descent. A successful match to them would be a substantially younger virgin Georgian girl. However, Zaza has his sights set on someone else. He is in love with a 34 year old divorcee named Judith (she also has a daughter). To Zaza's parents, Judith is damaged goods and a relationship between their son and her is a disgrace. They then take extreme measures to make sure this relationship ends. One night, the entire extended family pays a visit to her. Zaza's uncle threatens to kill her if she doesn't get out of Zaza's life. His father revokes Zaza's credit card and threatens to stop providing financial support for him to complete his education. Judith understands that it will be impossible for her and Zaza to be together (although she repeatedly prays for his love to burn only for her). So she takes the more mature approach (which later brings Zaza's mother to tears) and calls it off with Zaza. In a very poignant scene the day after the accostal, Zaza's mother comes back to talk to Judith (and also brings a large stuffed animal for the daughter as a conciliatory gesture). They talk and Judith accepts her judgment putting Zaza's mother to shame. "She's a good girl" according to the mother. Now Zaza has no choice but to choose a wife (he picked a pretty one I might add) and marry her. During the reception, he tries to cause a scene. In a very clever stroke of scripting, the tables are turned on him and we are left to assume that life goes on and another generation of fixed-marriage remains intact.To me this film is very powerful and raw in what it's trying to achieve. The director wants us to see, in all its gory/gratuitous details, what Israeli life is like. There are no smoke and mirrors, no time lapses. What you see is what you get, and it really makes a statement to the audience. When I was watching the film, particularly during the sex scene, I was thinking "What an honest, realistic, raw way to portray real life!" And that's what this film is all made with - honesty.So before you go on expecting this film to be a Hollywood love story, I suggest you ask yourself whether you are ready to handle a two-hour cultural immersion into the Israeli life. If so, watch it. If not, go watch something more lighthearted like My Big Fat Greek Wedding.LEAP rating (each out of 5):
L (Language) - 3.5 (bare-bones dialogue but appropriate for the tone being set)
E (Erotica) - 5 (includes a very realistic/raw sex scene)
A (Action) - 0 (n/a)
P (Plot) - 4 (31 yr. old Israeli male in love with an older divorcee, but parents force him to look for a younger, unmarried wife)"
Liked 'Walk on Water'? Try 'Late Marriage' Next
Andy Orrock | Dallas, TX | 04/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The thrill of watching international movies is to find a superb current release at your local first-run 'art house' cinema, lock on to a great star, then work backwards through that person's previous work. "Late Marriage" is the perfect example of how that movie-watching technique can unearth a hidden gem.
In this case, you can start with the oustanding Israeli film (in theaters now), "Walk on Water." You'll never see a better film. Its star, Lior Ashkenazi, is the hottest thing in Israel at the moment. His breakout, it turns out, was 2001's "Late Marriage." Shockingly, my local rental location (with its 150 - 200 international titles) had it in stock.
There's an unexpected treat in here: 'Marriage' also features (albeit too briefly) the charms of Aya Koren (billed here as Aya Steinovitz). This is the most beautiful woman in film today. See 'Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi' if you doubt that.
The film itself is very enlightening and, ultimately, heartbreaking. It centers on the struggles of a 31-year-old man looking for independence in life and love, yet hampered by the expectations and, subsequently, outright threats of his family when it comes to the matters of marriage. The ending of the film is a jawdropper. You'd never get this type of dispiriting - but hyper-realistic - conclusion in the "come lift us up where we belong" world of Hollywood.
Speaking of which, there are some annoying things to comment on about the marketing of this movie. A prominent blurb on the DVD cover box compares "Marriage" to "Big, Fat Greek Wedding."
Not on your life. Writer/Director Dover Koshashvili must have spit out his breakfast when he read that. These two films couldn't be more dissimilar in the way their respective culture conflicts get resolved.
Next, we had back of the DVD, which features solely a picture of Ashkenazi and Ms. Koren. You can't fault a marketer for featuring her front and center, but, alas, she's not center to the film in any fashion.
Last, and most egregiously, when have the cover shot of Ashkenazi flashing his newly be-ringed finger into the mirror. He appears to be showing it to co-star Ronit Elkabetz (his beloved Judith). This photo is faked. It's a montage. It egregiously misrepresents the resolution of the movie. At this point, Ashkenazi's Lior is alone, lost in deep introspection (we see why in the dramatic, concluding 10 minutes that follow).
Who is responsible for this trickery? Why resort to it? Will it sell a single extra copy of the movie? I'll bet this approach greatly upset Mr. Koshashvili. No way a director would condone this misrepresentation of his baby."
Zaza not good enough for Judith
Cecily | USA | 12/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One aspect of this excellent movie that hasn't really been mentioned here is the fact that Zaza's mother and father did in fact indicate to each other that they would accept Judith if they had to, without carrying out their threats to cut off their son. Zaza may love Judith, but he turns out to be the weak, dependent boy his parents think him to be, and he won't make a stand for the woman he loves. For all their name-calling and superior attitude toward Judith, she turns out to be too good for Zaza and his family. The movie doesn't have a sad ending if you see it in terms of Zaza getting what he really deserved and was capable of handling, and Judith remaining free to find a stronger and better man. She dodged a bullet!"
Intelligent, persuasive and true-to life
barbara_please | Cambridge, MA | 11/05/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"By far the best Israeli movie I've seen, Late Marriage explores the difficulties one 30-something intellectual has in individuating from his tradition-bound Georgian (as in former Soviet Union) family, who are recent immigrants to Israel. The movie, which is in Hebrew and Georgian, presents a much subtler and more convincing portrayal of the conflict between tradition and westernization, and of the more specific issue of arranged marriages, than the very popular "Monsoon Wedding." Unlike "Monsoon Wedding," this is primarily a dark film with a powerful evocation of the grip of a reactionary family on an attractive and ostensibly mature man.The performances are uniformly terrific and there is a prolonged and explicit sex scene in the middle of the movie that is astonishing in its beauty and realism. The direction is unobtrusive and superb, with minimal camera movement and extremely long takes. Overall, "Late Marriage" doesn't really resemble most Israeli movies that I've seen - there's no reference whatsoever to the political situation, for example - and most closely resembles a quiet European art film from the 60s or 70s.A must-have for collectors of serious cinema for grown-ups."
Cecily | 05/28/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"LATE MARRIAGE is a fascinating and refreshing look at love and courtship in contemporary Tel Aviv, Israel. Free of politics and the current tragedy being played out in the streets, the movie is a raucous, honest and sexually explicit portrayal of the love of a 31-year-old Georgian immigrant for a Moroccan-Isreali single mother three years his senior. Her "advanced" age and previous marriage make her unacceptable to his family. According to cultural tradition, he must marry a younger woman. After arranging several unsuccessful blind dates, his parents become suspicious, and discover the hero's relationship with his "undesireable" lover. What follows is both funny and tragic, leading to a conclusion that is, at best, bittersweet. The dialogue and the depiction of the lovers' relationship leaves nothing to the imagination, yet this is less about sex and more about love, passion and ancient traditon. Some of the actors are amateurs (the parents of the hero are portrayed by the director's real-life parents), but the main performances are well acted. I would definitely recommend this film as an alternative to the usual summer fare, but be warned: given the frankness of the subject, it's not a "first date" movie for the unworldy."