WEDDING DOLL (CHATONA MENIYAR)
Dir.: Nitzan Gilady
Cast: Moran Rosenblatt, Asi Levi, Roy Assaf; Israel 2015, 82 min.
Niitzan Gilady made her name a documentary filmmaker. Her debut feature, WEDDING DOLL shows all the qualities of her former work: the tempo gives time for all the protagonists to be properly introduced, whilst the third act sees a rapid rise in pace.
Set in a small town the Negev desert, we meet Hagit (Rosenblatt) who suffered a brain injury as a child, leading to a slightly unbalanced emotional and regressed intellectual development. Working in a family-owned loo paper factory, Hagit is in love with boss’ son Omri (Assaf). She is very creative and constructs wedding dolls from the paper. The strongest person in the trio is her mother Sara (Levi), a divorcée who is (over)protecting Hagit who hopes to marry Omri, and, after the factory goes out of business, gets a job as a seamstress. Hagit resents her over-protective mother and does her best to avoid contact with her. But Omri’s feelings are as strong as Hagit’s – and his friends are mostly porn-watching losers, but decent and helpful ones. Omri always puts his family and friends before Hagit who is a romantic idealist, living through her wonderful creations, always beaming with an infectious smile. Sadly, the story leads to a rather stomach-turning denouement.
DOP Roi Rot chooses to photograph Hagit in bright primary colours, her mother in a drab brown of varying shades, symbolic for their differences: Hagit all dreams, Sara (often tired) all reality. The greatest achievement is that Gilady avoids showing Hagit as the victim; her otherworldliness is always just the other side of normality. WEDDING DOLL is a small film with some great performances by Rosenblatt and Levi in the leads. It shows that the line between conventionality and mental imbalance is often fluctuating and fine. AS
LONDON FILM FESTIVAL UNTIL 18 OCTOBER 2015