“Burn only for me.”
Late Marriage is the story of Zaza (Lior Ashkenazi), a 31 year old bachelor and doctoral student of Philosophy in Israel. His parents expect him to marry someone from the Georgian community. Marriages are arranged between families–“a nice boy” is sent to meet “a nice girl” and although there is some choice allowed–the choice extends only to the selection of the already pre-approved mates. And Zaza’s parents are running out of patience with their son’s reluctance to wed.
Impatient for the grandchildren to start sprouting, and claiming that they are ashamed of their son, the parents present a united front (for once) and loading up any available relatives en masse, Zaza’s family visits the family of a potential bride. The girl–both sultry and sullen–is immediately approved of by Zaza’s family (Zaza’s dad wants to seal the deal on the spot), and Zaza participates in a “get-to-know-each-other” session.
But when the parents discover that Zaza has an ongoing relationship with Judith (Ronit Elkabetz) a 34 year old single mother and divorcee, they are prepared to go to whatever lengths are necessary to “persuade” Zaza to end the relationship they consider a fling.
I had a rather difficult time at first relating to the entire arranged marriage idea and the parents’ bullying insistence that Zaza should get to the marriage bed and start producing–after all, in Western culture, the approach to love and marriage is entirely different, but as the film wore on, I found myself becoming more interested in the characters and the pressures exerted upon the lovers by Zaza’s parents and extended family members (Granny included). Ultimately, Zaza must choose either his parents, their financial support, and social acceptance or the woman he claims to love. Can Zaza announce his independence and individualism when the pressure is so intense and he is surrounded by men who have experienced love and desire only to turn back to their families’ expectations and demands? I found it particularly intriguing that Zaza and Judith’s relationship represents all the illicit relationships the other male members of the family indulged in, and Judith becomes the loathed object of the women’s collective venom. This was an excellent film–the acting was superbly smooth, and this was a very interesting glimpse into a vastly different culture where marriages may be arranged, but issues such as duty, desire and love exist and present a struggle for the human heart. Directed by Dover Koshashvili.