"Waiting and Watching for God’s Plan To Unfold"
THE WEDDING PLAN (originally THROUGH THE WALL aka LAAVOR ET HAKIR) is an Israeli romantic comedy about a young engaged woman, who loses her intended husband, but trusts God to find her a husband in time for the scheduled wedding ceremony. THE WEDDING PLAN’s strong message about the power of faith and Divine Providence transcends cultural and religious differences. The quirky script and spot-on performances make THE WEDDING PLAN a good movie for date night.
Michal (Noa Koler) has dated for 10 years before deciding to go to a matchmaker to find the love of her life. She is all set for her dream wedding when her fiancé breaks her heart. In a moment of absolute trust that God will provide the right groom, she decides to go through with her wedding plan anyway by keeping the hall, saving the date, mailing invitations, and buying a dress and cake.
However, God better hurry. There are only 22 days until the ceremony, on the eighth night of Hanukkah.
Will Michal get her “Hanukkah miracle”? Or, is she wrong to even ask, much less expect, an answer?
As Michal, Noa Koler’s quirky persona and girl-next-shtetl looks win the audience right away as the good girl desperately seeking her Mr. Right. She runs a mobile petting zoo along with her best friend, Feigi (Ronny Merhavi), who is also single. Along the way, Michal meets a series of potential suitors from a deaf man and an ultra-religious man, who refuses to look at her during their date, to a “salt of the earth” Jewish believer, and a rock star. Between laughs, and some genuinely uncomfortable moments of dialogue that show her character’s faults, the movie provides a discussion about God’s goodness and faithfulness.
Desperate for an answer, Michal travels to Ukraine, to pray at the grave of Rabbi Nachman (who died in 1810). Nachman founded the Breslov Hasidic movement, which combined Scripture with Kabbalism. Accounts vary as to whether he believed he was the Messiah. While none of this is dealt with onscreen, viewers of other sects or religions may want to discuss it with younger, impressionable viewers. The heroine’s scene at his tomb, where she screams to Heaven that she can’t feel God’s Presence, is a dark night of the soul that many people of faith have shared.
At the tomb, she meets Yoss (Oz Zehavi), a world-famous rock star jolted by her authenticity. However, as he shows an interest in her, is he exploiting her faith to get her into bed, or is she so committed to maintaining a pious image that she’s ignoring the answer to her prayers?
Director Rama Burshtein (who also wrote the script) deserves credit for introducing much-needed tension into an otherwise conventional rom-com scenario. Koler’s performance has everyone hoping she will find what is best, but Burshtein continually muddies the waters about what that is. Does God reward blind faith, or is Michal showing unspeakable arrogance by expecting God to work on her schedule? Credible arguments on both sides keep the viewer guessing which lesson Burshtein wants her heroine to learn. Eventually, the viewer is convinced that any of the potential husbands, or none of them, could plausibly break through the door at the last moment, although the ending turns out to be somewhat conventional.
The objectionable elements are almost non-existent. The matchmaker engages in some folk customs or superstitions, but the ending makes clear that Michal’s devotion to the Torah is what brought her an answer. One character’s divorce, because his wife “didn’t want God,” raises questions, as does the movie’s treatment of a deaf man and a Japanese convert. However, the movie is primarily about how complete faith, fasting and devotion to carrying out the Divine will lead to answered prayer and happiness.
In the end, THE WEDDING PLAN’s key message is that, with faith and divine intervention, “Anything can happen. Everything is possible.”
(BBB, Pa, L, V, MM). Very strong moral message in a Jewish context, of God’s goodness and provision, including extended discussions of the power of living our lives by faith, three references to Shabbat (the Jewish keeping of the Sabbath), two references to an upcoming “Hanukkah miracle,” one mention of fasting, a reference to the Book of Psalms, one quotation from the Talmud, a lit menorah, two references to the chuppah, a mikveh, prayer at a rabbinical leader’s tomb, two references to the Creator and two more to the “Divine Presence” in song, five brief prayers (“Thank God,” “God help me,” etc.), and one heartfelt cry to God, plus one reference to “the evil eye,” a pagan superstition, and a Jewish matchmaker rubs fish guts on the star’s face as part of a ritual to find her the perfect man; one “h” word; no violence; no sex; no nudity; no alcohol use; no smoking or drugs; and, possible questionable elements include one character’s divorce, a dysfunctional marriage, three references to feeling a person’s “energy,” a line of dialogue that a departed rabbi “watches over us” in the form of intercession, movie mentions the Breslov Hasidic sect of Judaism that has been associated with the Kabbalah, and there’s insensitive treatment to a deaf man and a Japanese convert to Judaism.
THE WEDDING PLAN is an appealing romantic comedy from Israel about the power of faith in the hunt for the perfect life partner. Michal’s fiancé breaks their engagement. However, she decides to have her wedding at the scheduled time and place anyway, trusting that God will provide the perfect groom in time. The rest of the story shows Michal’s arduous trial of faith as the clock counts down the 22 days to the last day of Hanukkah, when the wedding ceremony is supposed to take place.
Noa Koler’s performance as the heroine in THE WEDDING PLAN is endearing without being cloying. Director Rama Burshtein’s script and direction inject just enough tension to keep the movie from being totally predictable. THE WEDDING PLAN has a strong moral worldview extolling God’s goodness and divine providence, in a Jewish context. Despite some trials, the heroine keeps stressing her faith that God will provide everything that’s good. That message transcends cultural and religious barriers. Most literate viewers can enjoy THE WEDDING PLAN, although some explanation may be required for the Jewish customs and superstitions in the movie.