Despite living in Fayetteville, AR, which is the greatest center of Yiddishkeit in all of the Ozarks, I had to travel to Boston to see the wonderful new film, The Wedding Plan, in a theater. You should make an effort to see it if you live in a city where it is now showing and, if not, you should plan to see it when it arrives eventually on Netflix.
The Wedding Plan is the second film from writer/director Rama Burshtein, following her debut movie that I also loved and previously reviewed on JPGB, Fill the Void. Like the previous film, The Wedding Plan is set in an Orthodox Jewish community in Israel and focuses on questions of love and marriage. But unlike Fill the Void, The Wedding Plan is not primarily about love and marriage. It is really about faith and whether it is reasonable to expect that good things will happen — perhaps even miracles. In this sense it is more like another fantastic film set in an Israeli Orthodox community, Ushpizin.
The premise of The Wedding Plan is that Michal is finally set to be married when her her fiance gets cold feet and backs out a month before the nuptials. She has the dress and the wedding hall is reserved, so she decides to go ahead with the plan. All she needs is a groom. I know this sounds like the sort of Rom-Com plot that might feature Julia Roberts hilariously racing from one bad date to another until she finds Mr. Right just in time (and the American trailer has that feeling), but this movie is about much more.
The Hebrew title of the film means Through the Wall, which highlights a scene in which Michal explains that her plan to get married by the end of the month is like a karate chop. She says she has to believe 100% to break through the wall. If it is 99% she’ll break her hand.
Her friends and family fear that she will break her hand regardless. They bring a rabbi to advise her. “What you are doing is counting on miracles,” he tells her. “Who gave you the right?” She answers quoting the Talmud: “The world was created for me.” Is this just hubristic entitlement or should each of us feel like there is a plan for oneself in the world that includes enjoying the good?
Given the excessively cynical — even nihilistic — tilt of our culture and politics, it is worth considering whether we might be better off just having confidence that good things will somehow work out. Or does believing this just set us up for even greater disappointment? As Michal says, sitting alone in her wedding dress, “The bubble is about to burst.” Should we protect ourselves from disappointment by not expecting anything good to come from the world?
These are questions that a Julia Roberts movie would not ask, but The Wedding Plan does.
And here is the American trailer: