Through the Wall (U) | Close-Up Film Review

Dir. Rama Burshtein, Israel, 2016. 110 mins.

Cast: Noa Kooler, Oz Zehavi, Amos Tamam, Odelia Moreh-Matalon

Set in the ultra-orthodox Jewish community, this Israeli film introduces us to Michal (Noa Koler), who is considered by others as well as herself, to be too old at 32, not to be married. She confesses to the marriage broker, Hulda (a compassionate performance by Odelia Moreh-Matalon) that she needs to be married to be respected, but she wants two-way love. A husband, Gidi (Erez Drigues) is found and Michal becomes engaged and books a hall and food with Hulda’s son Shimi (Amos Tamam) who owns the hall.

When Michal finds that Gidi doesn’t love her and the engagement is terminated, she refuses to give up the idea of marriage. Her religion encourages her to believe that God will provide a husband for her. Michal keeps all the arrangements that have been made for the wedding set for 22 days hence and goes about finding a husband for herself. Director Rama Burshtein – who is Jewish orthodox and directed the excellent Fill the Void – has made another film about the same community but very different from her earlier one which looked at marriage and family commitment.

Michal sees a variety of men – all of whom are unsuitable. She has a good friendship with a singer, Yos (Oz Zehavi ‘Yossi’), who she meets while praying. As the day gets closer and even as Michal puts on her wedding dress, we are left to wonder if the marriage will, indeed, take place and who the bridegroom will be.

It’s an interesting concept and put across with a lot of humour. The film delves into an ultra-orthodox community that many in the audience will have little or no knowledge of. There are some flaws in this otherwise tender and riveting tale – we see Michal with a friend in a wheel chair but nothing about her is explained.

However, the acting, of less important characters as well as the leads, is of a consistently high standard and Noa Kohler as Michal is a real find.

Review by Carlie Newman