The Wedding Plan

wedding plan

May 8, 2017.  Israeli writer and director Rama Burshtein’s new film, “The Wedding Plan,” opens on May 12. I saw “The Wedding Plan” as part of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

I went into “The Wedding Plan” with a lot of expectations, which sadly were not met. Burshtein’s previous film, “Fill the Void” (2012), is a real favorite of mine. In fact I use “Fill the Void” in the “Introduction to Sociology” classes that I teach at CUNY Queens College. I use it to illustrate ideas and concepts about social structure structure, social institutions and culture. Due to my teaching schedule, I see “Fill the Void” between six and seven times a year and never tire of it.

One of the many things I like about “Fill the Void” is the way Burshtein shot many of film’s scenes in long takes. In other words, the actors enter a scene and the camera stays back and observes them interacting. There is not a lot of editing within the scenes themselves. One result of this is that we are able to appreciate the actors’ performances. In addition, the slower pace of some of these long takes creates a feeling of tension which is very important for this heavy drama.

Now, “The Wedding Plan,” I realize is a comedy and, maybe does not have to subscribe to the same rules as a drama. Granted, however, I do think it is possible for scenes in comedies to be shot in long takes. Preston Sturges and Charlie Chaplin had great success using long takes in their comedies, just to name two directors. Since Burshtein demonstrated a proficiency for long takes in “Fill the Void,” I wish she had used it here, in “The Wedding Plan.” Instead she has chosen to go in the opposite direction. Instead of pulling back the camera and allowing the actors to interact with each other, the film is filled with an endless parade of close ups and constant cutting within scenes. The result was that I found myself not as engaged with the story’s characters, as I might have been otherwise.  I wish Burshtein had trusted her actors more. In fact, there’s even a scene in which some of the film’s characters break into a impromptu dance and the scene is filmed in close shots. Come on! It’s a dance! Pull back the camera and let us see it in all of its “head to toe” glory.

Bride to be Michal (Noa Koler) is jilted by her fiance. Now, at the age of 32, considered old in the Isreali Hasidic community, Michal, undeterred, sets a wedding date for herself and is determined to find a husband by that date. So, there is a ticking clock, a very good idea for a comedy. After all, Buster Keaton did it, with great success in the 1925 silent film, “Seven Chances,” in which he has to get married by a certain time in order to claim an inheritance. We see Michal consider, and then reject, suitor after suitor. I have to admit that, after a while, I was becoming fed up with Michal and was losing sympathy for her character, which is not a good feeling to have in a comedy, or a drama for that matter.

How does it all end? I wont reveal it here. I will say, though, that I saw it coming, and left “The Wedding Plan” unhitched to it’s premise, story and characters.

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About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on May 8, 2017, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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