Short Take: The Wedding Plan

(Rama 
Burshtein, Israel, Roadside Attractions, Opens May 12)

Israeli actress Noa Kooler has an open and fluid face, washed over by waves of humor and thought and pain. Her performance as Michal in The Wedding Plan, writer/ director Rama Burshtein’s follow-up to 2012’s Fill the Void, is a masterpiece of storytelling power from the very first scene when Michal visits a fortune-teller, hoping for insight into her prospects for marriage.

An Orthodox Jew born into a secular family, Michal wants a conventional life, but she’s not a conventional person: she keeps a menagerie and hires herself out as a traveling zoo for parties. After a broken engagement, she makes the radical move to continue planning for the wedding, trusting in God that a groom will appear. A matchmaker sends Michal on a flurry of absurd dates. Desperate to discover God’s plan for her, Michal goes on a religious pilgrimage. During the trip, she meets a famous pop singer (Oz Zehavi), and something intense sparks between them.

The Wedding Plan is a rom-com filtered through the perspective of a very religious woman. Burshtein has crafted a film that’s poignant and funny, smart and unexpected, with a lead actress able to convey a loneliness so vast that it approaches a permanent condition. Without that element, The Wedding Plan would skip off the surface of its own story.

Burshtein takes love and happiness very seriously. She knows what loneliness can do. The Wedding Plan, with its beautiful flow between comedy and sentiment, celebrates the pursuit of love, its absurdity, intensity, and power.