Friday, August 17, 2012
Avi Nesher's THE MATCHMAKER: an exotic, funny and moving melodrama from Israel
Avi Nesher's last intriguing and transgressive Israeli movie, The Secrets, so it's terrific to have him back again with yet another wonderful, somewhat strange and rather exotic film, THE MATCHMAKER. What makes the movie seem so exotic lies in its combination of time period, place, and characters: Israel in 1968, soon after the Six-Day War, when everything from social mores to fashions to sex seems to be changing -- and way too fast for some folk. This is also an Israel vastly different from what we see today.
Tuval Shafir, above) struggling with first love and a new job in the seedier side of Haifa (he and his family live in a better area of town) when he accepts employment with the very odd matchmaker of the title, a scar-faced fellow named Yankele (Adir Miller, below), our other hero, who is a smuggler and petty criminal, but who also does matchmaking on the side -- especially for folk who might otherwise have some trouble connecting.
Neta Porat, below, center);
Dror Keren, below), himself looking for a companion;
Bat-El Papura, below, left) for whom Yankele has promised to find a mate.
Amir Gutfreund. I have not read the novel so I can't say how well the movie adheres to Gutfreund's goals. On its own, however, it delivers a tale that is thoughtful, funny, moving and in its way original. I won't easily forget it.
Menemsha Films and running 112 minutes -- opens today, Friday, August 17, in New York City at the Quad Cinema and the JCC, and in Queens at the Kew Gardens Cinema, while continuing its Los Angeles run at Laemmle's Town Center 5. Click here to see all currently scheduled playdates, with cities and theaters included.