'The Wedding Plan': Seattle International Film Festival movie review
The premise - a woman intent on finding a groom in just a matter of weeks - sounds like some brainless Kate Hudson rom-com. However, the Israeli romantic-drama "The Wedding Plan" (screening at the 43rd Seattle International Film Festival starting May 22) reflects on the deep impulses that urge people to find "the one" and pulls at the threads of romanticized marriage.
In short: Michal (Noa Koler) is ready to finally get married - but her fiancé abruptly leaves her on the eve of their wedding. An Orthodox Jew, she refuses to cancel her wedding arrangements and insists that God will supply her a husband in time for her wedding just weeks away.
The film opens with a pair of beautifully composed scenes: the first defines the motives that will drive the rest of the film and the second throws her world into chaos. Michal's sincerity and resolve drives the film. Her fears and longings are plainly laid out at the very first scene, clearly establishing what motivates Michal. She is elementally convicted in her belief in love and in her religious faith.
She is compelled by a void within her. She believes marriage will fill some hole in her -- that it will fulfill some longing in her being. Michal's entire plan is rooted in her professed belief that God will provide a husband to her in time for her wedding, but even this proves to be another void in her. Michal is the film's protagonist and primary antagonist - while she is not self-defeating or self destructive, Michal is resolved in her goal but endlessly internally conflicted anytime she's seriously confronted with a possible husband.
Koler's performance as Michal is a classic example of an actor putting a film on her back and carrying it from the very first scene. She exudes a firmness in her certainty that God will provide a husband and a vulnerability in her honesty, as she muses about relationships and marriage. Years of seemingly endless dating and being dumped by her fiancee have pushed Michal to her wit's end - but Koler's performance keeps Michal from ever seeming desperate.
When Michal decides to find a husband in just a matter of weeks, the movie's clock instantly starts counting down. She only has 22 days before her wedding date - so every man she meets is a perspective groom and every day that passes brings her one step closer to the scheduled wedding (that will happen with or without a groom). In her own words, "Everything is possible." But it is the very first scene (which establishes the film's stakes: how and why important marriage is to Michal) that is absolutely crucial to "The Wedding Plan."
Final verdict: "The Wedding Plan" is a thoughtful, witty, mature high-concept reflection on the expectations and reality of dating and courtship. Noa Koler is sensational as a woman deadset on her plan - and equally certain she will utterly fail.
"The Wedding Plan" screens at the 2017 Seattle International Film Festival. The Israeli romance-drama is rated PG for thematic elements and has a running time of 110 minutes.