Consistently misdescribed as a film about a woman dumped a month before her wedding, Rama Burshtein’s The Wedding Plan is the powerfully feminist story of a woman with a clear vision for her future, and the faith and courage to achieve it.
Michal (Noa Koler), an unwed, Orthodox Jewish woman in her early 30s, is unwavering in her requirements in her prospective husband: she wants to love and be loved, to celebrate their faith together, and for him to sing to her. When she learns that her fiancé does not love her—a fact he divulges reluctantly over a tasting appointment—she ends their engagement but holds firm to her wedding plans with utmost faith.
In contrast to Fill the Void, Burshtein’s debut feature (also about faith and marriage), The Wedding Plan is a romantic comedy. The heroine has been meeting potential matches for ten years and she’s over it. She has a wedding date, a dress, a nearly-furnished apartment, and all she needs is a groom: her personal Hanukkah miracle. If she believes that she will be married, God will provide.
Koler is electric as Michal, a rom-com heroine with all the usual trappings: quirky job, trio of friends, anxious mother. She’s open and honest, putting herself out in the world with a crooked smile and a courage that appears fearless. The intimate, hand-held camera lets us experience her perspective; she’s a woman we want as a friend. As one potential suitor tells her, “You are full of light.”
Set in an Orthodox Jewish community with modern matchmakers arranging dates over smartphones, The Wedding Plan is a terrific example of the fresh stories we discover when we tell old tales in new ways. The rom-com isn’t dead, it’s just different.
The point of a romantic comedy isn’t a surprise ending; it’s arriving at happiness by fate or faith. It’s a fairy tale, and fairy tales are crucial stories we tell to make sense of our lives. It’s because we believe in Michal’s wedding miracle that the miracle arrives.