Like Mira Nair's recent "Monsoon Wedding," "Late Marriage" intelligently (but less optimistically) investigates the pitfalls of arranged marriages among increasingly modernized traditionalist cultures. Zaza (Lior Ashkenazi), a 31-year-old graduate student at Tel Aviv University, has acquiesced to his Georgian parents' wishes that they help find him a wife. During a meeting with the beautiful but materialistic Ilana (Aya Steinovits Laor), we discover that Zaza has met with roughly 100 prospective brides. Solidifying his continual reluctance to marry is Judith (Ronit Elkabetz), a divorced mother with whom Zaza often spends the night, and to whom his heart seems to belong. When his extended family discovers the affair, however, they force Zaza's hand with an unbelievably rude intervention staged in front of Judith and her child.
For the most part, first-time feature director Dover Kosashvili handles his simple story quite ably; as a Georgian émigré himself, and with his own mother playing Zaza's mater, it's clearly a very personal project. The film does lose some of its realism in its final chapter, and it strikes some ambiguous notes that force viewers to draw their own conclusions -- which is not necessarily a bad thing.
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