Through the Wall

Review by Caitlin Quinlan @csaquinlan

Directed by

Rama Burshtein

Starring

Dafi Alferon Noa Kooler Oded Leopold

Anticipation.

Burshtein’s previous film, Fill the Void, was great.

Enjoyment.

Very easy to watch. Too easy, maybe.

In Retrospect.

Lacking the punch needed to make it memorable.

This feather-light rom-com follows a woman’s journey to the altar without a groom by her side.

It’s often said that people will do anything for love. But how does planning a wedding without a husband fit into that equation? Israeli director Rama Burshtein’s Through the Wall sees charming tragi-comedy slip into Hollywood rom-com predictability as Michal, a born-again Orthodox Jew living in Jerusalem, desperately seeks marriage and a spouse to complete her.

After her fiancé leaves, citing his lack of love for her, she refuses to abandon the wedding plans and chooses to go ahead with the ceremony on the agreed date in the hope that God will find the groom for her in the days before. Perhaps not the most conventional rom-com fare but Burshtein’s film has all the key tropes: a lonely heroine with dashing potential suitors; her best friends to guide her through the dating trauma. Michal’s faith in both God and the power of love is tested as she prays to be rid of the despair and loneliness that plagues her, facing the socially-doomed prospect of a life lived alone.

With moments of humour and an endearing lead, the film is pleasant and straightforward but, unfortunately, doesn’t deliver much else. It falters in places, mainly due to the story’s foundation that its protagonist is unfulfilled without a man and the director’s reluctance to criticise this assumption which is possibly based on her own relationship with the Jewish Orthodox community.

Every aspect of Michal’s life seems to revolve around her marriage, from her lack of a prospective husband to her suitably unappealing career as the owner of a mobile petting zoo, all visually illustrated in the film by the feminine pinks and purples in which she frequently dresses, or the flowers she is often framed by. There are hints at female solidarity in the form of the character’s closest friends, but the fiercest dialogue all revolves around men or their lack of faith in her marriage madness.

Newcomer actress Noa Koler brings an amiable sweetness to the lead character that captures both the humour and tragedy of Burshstein’s script but the heavy reliance on this single actor to carry the entire film overtakes and wastes opportunities to explore the support players. The introductions of the suggested grooms, particularly the Israeli popstar Yoss (Oz Zehavi), she meets while on a pilgrimage to the grave of the founding Hasidic Rabbi in Ukraine, also feel rushed and underdeveloped. Once Koler’s charm begins to wear thin it’s easy to become frustrated by a story that has the potential to be so much more than a light romantic frolic.

Published 16 Dec 2016

Tags: Israeli cinema

Anticipation.

Burshtein’s previous film, Fill the Void, was great.

Enjoyment.

Very easy to watch. Too easy, maybe.

In Retrospect.

Lacking the punch needed to make it memorable.

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