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This is the best Israeli film of the spring, and in general one of the best films of recent times - voila! culture


In just seventy minutes and through a story about brides from Ukraine, "Valeria Gets Married" manages to create drama and tension and raise fascinating questions about love, money and the institution of marriage. Review

From the movie "Valeria Gets Married" (courtesy of United King Films)

Star rating - five stars (photo: image processing, Walla system)

The history of the Israeli film industry is a story of ups and downs, and right now it is experiencing a particularly painful downfall.

An illustration of this came last Wednesday, when Israeli Cinema Day passed with a weak response.

As far as I know, there was not even an announcement about the number of tickets sold there.

Maybe it's better not to know.

It is too short to enumerate the reasons for this, and most of them are also well known - the corona virus, streaming, the political wars that infiltrated cinema and made it difficult for everyone, and so on.

The trouble is also that it is a rolling event.

Because in the first place there is no talk about Israeli cinema, no one writes about it on social networks, and why would anyone bother to watch something that is not talked about?

Where are the likes?

It's a shame, because great Israeli films are also being released during this period, ones that, if they had come out a decade and a half ago, would have caused much greater resonance - in Israel and around the world.

The latest example of this is "Valeria Gets Married" by Michal Vinik, which was released last weekend after being the only Israeli film at the last Venice Film Festival, was nominated for 14 Ophir Awards and won the screenplay award.

A good movie that comes out at a bad time.

From "Valeria Gets Married" (photo: courtesy of United King Films)

The heroine for whom the film is named is a young Ukrainian woman, who arrives in Israel to meet her intended groom for the first time - Eitan, one of those Israeli men who found a match through one of those dubious websites that introduce/sell "Ukrainian brides" to them.

Christina, sister of the heroine already lives in Israel, and married an Israeli named Michael in the same way.

He is also the one who mediated between her sister and her groom, and the deal should pay off for all parties.

Eitan, a guy who is not particularly attractive by any means, will finally find a woman to share his life with.

Valeria, who lives in a poor country, will get to move to one of the richest countries in the western world.

Christina, a lonely immigrant, will gain her sister's company, and the money Ethan received from the mediation will finance her fertility treatments.

In the course we will also learn that she undergoes conversion.

This is how it is in Israel: everyone must be married, everyone must be Jewish, everyone must have children.

We are used to local films about mothers and daughters.

"Valeria Gets Married" is a rare example of a movie about sisters, and thanks to the director's use of the faces of the heroines, they become mirrors of each other - when one looks at the other, she sees her future or her past.

A rare example of an Israeli film about nurses.

From "Valeria Gets Married" (Photo: Image Processing, Public Relations, Courtesy of United King Films)

Valeria came to Israel to get married, but at an early stage decides that this arrangement does not suit her, and we are left to decipher why - did she discover things in the face-to-face meeting with Eitan that she did not internalize in the virtual conversations with him?

Or maybe it's because she got a glimpse of her sister's life as an invited bride in Israel, realized what awaited her and decided to rebel against it?

In one of the climaxes of the film, Valeria interrogates her sister about her relationship with Michael and asks her - "Do you love him?".

Basically, Christina answers her question, but what she doesn't say is even more important than what she does say, and her answer raises bigger questions for us, first and foremost whether love is really the most important value.

These questions are also relevant outside the context of the brides in the invitation.

Look around you: did everyone you know get married and stay married only out of love?

If we answer this from a broad point of view, the answer is certainly negative.

After all, marriage in romantic circumstances, and women's economic independence, are quite modern inventions.

The questions are not only historical, but philosophical - who determined that love is a supreme value?

Can we judge someone who married for financial reasons or for convenience?

And in this particular case: let's say that Valeria decides to escape from this relationship and return to her homeland, can this be defined as a "happy ending"?

After all, there are no strangers and roses waiting for her when she returns there.

This is an opportunity to point out that the film was written and filmed before the invasion of Ukraine, and now it is loaded with new and different meanings, what's more, its heroines are from the Russian part of the country, and speak Russian.

Men, women, hoards and immigrants in one pressure cooker.

From "Valeria Gets Married" (photo: courtesy of United King Films)

"Valeria Gets Married" lasts only seventy minutes - much less than the average length of this year's Oscar hits.

In fact, even if you watch it twice, it's still shorter than The Fivelmen.

Despite this modest volume, the film manages to put a long list of weighty questions on the table.

He does this in an implicit, updated and sophisticated way, without spoon-feeding and without providing easy answers.

"Valeria Gets Married" respects its audience and respects its characters, almost every single one of them.

It has no caricatures and no easy dichotomies of the "bad men, good women, good Russians, bad Israelis" type.

Michael is not a complete villain.

There are human sides to him, and at one point we even see him receiving a racist comment from an Israeli of Russian descent.

Eitan is a rather pathetic character, and the most one-sided character in the film turns out to be a woman in the end.

In the end, if there are "guilty" and "bad" here but not human beings,

The virtues of the film are not only scriptural, but also cinematic.

In addition to the length of the short, the volume of "Valeria Gets Married" is also geographically limited - most of it takes place in one apartment, necessity is the father of invention, and these limitations oblige Michal Vinik and her partners, led by photographer Guy Raz, to show creativity and resourcefulness.

They meet the task with great success.

Do not miss.

From "Valeria Gets Married" (photo: courtesy of United King Films)

Time and time again, the film manages to use the camera and space to create drama and tension.

"Valeria Gets Married" is never boring for a moment, and is so intense and rich that at the end of it the feeling is that so many things happened, that the result was more than seventy minutes.

In a film so compressed, there is no room for mistakes - and the performance is flawless.

Yaakov Zadeh Daniel broke through exactly a decade ago in "At Li Lila" and since then he has been everywhere, and rightfully so.

Avraham Shalom Levy plays the role of Eitan in his most outstanding film role so far and copes well with the ungrateful role of Hedel Ishim.

Lena Freifeld, who until now has been active mainly on stage, this year demonstrated her extraordinary cinematic presence in one scene of "Concerned Citizen", and here she does it for a longer time.

Above all of these, most of the weight rests on the shoulders of Dasha Tbornovich in the role of Valeria, and she is mesmerizing and magnetizing from the first second to the last.

"Valeria Gets Married" is not only the best Israeli film this spring, but in general one of the best films of recent times.

Its only problem is the timing: if it had been released a few years ago, for example, it would have caused much more resonance, in Israel and around the world.

From the movie "Valeria Gets Married" (photo courtesy of United King Films)

Because of the limitations of the local market, a long time always passes between the production and distribution of a film, and look what happened since the filming of "Valeria Gets Married" ended: Russia invaded Ukraine and worsened the situation of Ukrainian women, among other things;

The phenomenon of "brides from Ukraine" intensified, as did the racism spiced with misogyny against them in Israel.

And more with us: a new Knesset, for which women are the poor.

So who said that Israeli cinema no longer has value?

Watching "Valeria Gets Married" is a golden opportunity to check what changed between 2020 and 2023 and get a double lesson: how bad it was then, and how much worse it has become now.

  • culture

  • Theater

  • film review


  • Michal Winnick

  • Jacob Zada ​​Daniel

  • Brides from Ukraine

  • Valeria is getting married

Source: walla

All tech articles on 2023-03-25

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