Lisa Schwarzbaum
May 24, 2002 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Late Marriage

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
runtime
100 minutes
performer
Lior Ashkenazi, Ronit Elkabetz
director
Dover Koshashvili
distributor
Magnolia Pictures
genre
Drama, Foreign Language

We gave it an A-

Although both are about arranged unions in cultures whose traditions seem exotic to outsiders, there’s none of the happily-ever-after spangle of ”Monsoon Wedding” in Late Marriage — and that’s part of what makes Dover Kosashvili’s outstanding feature debut so potent. The world he knows firsthand is the subculture of Georgian immigrants in Israel, in which Zaza (Lior Ashkenazi), a jaded 31-year-old perpetual student, dutifully trails his parents to matchmaking dates while carrying on a tempestuous romance with Judith (Ronit Elkabetz), an older Moroccan divorcée and single mother whose place in Zaza’s life his family will not tolerate.

The graphic sexual connection between the pair, while striking in its realism, is no more astonishing than the relaxed, natural way in which Kosashvili balances comedy and misery, the independent nature of eros, and the obligations of family: There’s no simple solution to Zaza’s crisis, and even the most inflamed relative gets a kiss of respect — and a slap of horror. Watch for the director’s own mother, Lili Kosashvili, a standout as Zaza’s fierce, stately mama.

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