Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Late Marriage

(Hatuna Meuheret, Israel, 2001)

At some point watching this, Lee said something like “This is the anti-My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” She’s right. In that one, ethnic families were a jolly thing to be endured. It was funny, trying to live with old-country values in modern America.

This movie is in an ethnic Georgian community in Israel, and these Georgians don’t fuck around. A 31-year-old man, still being supported by his family, is enduring an endless round of bride interviews. We see one, and it is horrific, part yard sale and part slave auction, with both families trying to sell the prospective bride and groom. Trouble is, the guy is seeing a 34-year-old divorcee with a young daughter. Absolutely not! The family visits her, with the son present, calls her a whore, threatens to kill her. And you believe they would. And the guy takes it. At the end, he’s marrying some stranger, drunk out of his mind. He actually tries to kiss his father’s balls … apparently because he has none of his own.

My own prejudices are unavoidable here. I know that romantic love affairs often (hell, even usually, these days) produce disastrous marriages. But it never occurred to me, not once in my life, to do anything my family told me to after I was 18. (Luckily, they never tried; I’m not from that sort of ethnic background.) So I know what I would have done. And, from my point of view, this man is a coward. The big question for me is, does the man have no spine because his family systematically castrated him over 31 years, or was he simply born with no balls? You decide.

I must mention that this film contains one of the most realistic sex scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie, and I emphatically include hardcore movies, where the sex is by the numbers, almost never convincing. I’m not talking about graphic, explicit shots, though there is nudity. This scene is extended, and brutally and comically honest. It’s real, like you’re actually peering into someone else’s bedroom, and discomforting because of that, but in the end it’s well worth watching unless you’re prudish.