Through the Wall

 

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A comedy about the marriage prospects of an Hassidic Jewess in Jerusalem.

 
Through the Wall

  

When Rama Burshtein's first feature, Fill the Void, appeared in 2012 I found its view of Jewish family life engaging but suggested that the filmmaker's closeness to her material had resulted in a work that failed to establish all of its characters and their relationships clearly. Unfortunately, that remains the case with her second feature, Through the Wall. It quickly establishes Michal (Noa Kooler) as its unmarried heroine and we meet her mother and a number of possible suitors both appropriate and inappropriate, but beyond that there are numerous female characters, both friends and relatives of Michal, who long remain undefined. However, that is hardly the worst fault here.

 

Unlike its predecessor, Through the Wall emerges as a surprisingly silly film. Michal, a lonely-looking figure, is presented as someone who for no clear reason has been dating for over ten years without success. Her situation now seems desperate but, to show what a God-fearing female she is, she actually sets up her marriage to take place 22 days hence to demonstrate her belief that God will provide her with a groom although so far he is absent. In the hope of rectifying that, she continues to meet men including a deaf mute produced by a marriage broker but the film, instead of playing as farce, is presented as a comedy that on occasion seeks to touch the audience's emotions. Ultimately several men look to be potential last minute husbands and this at the very time when her behaviour (she eventually turns up for the ceremony to which she has invited 200 guests minus a groom but wearing a wonderful wedding dress) suggests not an ideal wife but somebody in need of a psychiatrist.

 

Given this material the competent cast cannot save the day. Michal's behaviour soon renders her irritating so that any underlying pathos intended is thwarted. Similarly, her determination, linked as it is to her own interpretation of what she can expect from God, will surely be too alien to have any wide appeal for audiences. It is the case that ultimately Through the Wall bypasses its more original aspects to end up as a standard piece of romantic comedy as we wait to discover which man will provide Michal with the expected happy ending. But the sad truth is that the situation is so nutty that we don't care who it is.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Noa Kooler, Dani Alferon, Irit Sheleg, Ronny Meshair, Oz Zehavi, Oded Leopold, Jonathan Rozen, Udi Perri.

 

Dir Rama Burshtein, Pro Assaf Amir, Screenplay Rama Burshtein, Ph Amit Yasur, Art Dir Uri Aminov, Ed Yael Herouski, Music Roy Edri, Costumes Hava Levi Rozelsky.

 

Norma Productions/Avi Chai Fund/Gesher Fund/Keshet Broadcasting-Curzon Artificial Eye.
110 mins. Israel. 2016. Rel: 16 December 2016. Cert. U.