Through the Wall | Laa Vor et Hakir (2016) | Home Ent release
Dir.: Rama Burshtein | Cast: Noa Kooler, Irit Sheleg, Dafi Alpheon, Odelia Morteh, Amos Tamam, Oz Zehavi, Erez Drigues | Israel 2016 | 110 min.
Director/writer Rama Bursthein (Fill the Void) has created a very single-minded heroine, who after eleven years of waiting in vain to get married, simply puts her faith in God and books a hall for her wedding on the Eighth Day of Hanukah – leaving her with the task to find a husband in a matter of weeks.
It all starts for Michal (Kooler) a few days before the planned wedding to Gidi (Drigues): he simply declares that he does not love Michal and cancels the ceremony. Unperturbed, Michal, 32, seeks the help of a Jewish “witch doctor” and matchmaker – Hulda (Morteh), who promises success, and helps Michal to book a hall for her wedding, catering for 200 guests. The venue is owned by her son Shimi (Tamam), whose own marriage is on the rocks. Michal’s family is of no great help: her mother (Irit Sheleg) is not religious and does not share her daughter’s Hasidic faith, which dictates that that true happiness for a woman can only be found in marriage. Her sister (Alpheon) is equally cynical about Michal’s chances of finding a husband in time – and with Gidi marrying Michal’s friend Ziva, the voices of doubt have their point. Next, Michal undertakes a pilgrimage to the shrine of Rabbi Nachman, one of the founders of the ultra-orthodox Hasidic movement. Apart from meeting the rock star Yoss (Zehavi) – she is told by the long queue of waiting groupies to ‘get in line’ – nothing gives in this adventure either. When the wedding day arrives, Michal, still without a husband, really needs a miracle.
THROUGH THE WALL suffers from its tortuous pacing which destroys any tension in the storyline. As the owner of Mobile Petting Zoo (she performs for children’s birthday parties), Michal gives the audience much more entertainment and Kooler is full of energy, and lovable in spite of herself, but the orthodox marriage dogma somehow reduces the drama to a question of faith: and it’s difficult to believe that such an inflexible, self-centred woman will sacrifice her independence for any man – let alone a last minute stand-in.
The ensemble acting is admirable, and DoP Amit Yasur (Next to Her) conjures up wonderful images of the Petting Zoo travels, and equally finds always new angles for the close-ups of the storming heroine. Apart from being too long, the film suffers from a rather uncritical acceptance of orthodox faith. AS
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