We’re often told that no one actually wants to see how sausage is made…but what about toilet paper? If you think you might be interested in a film examining that particular industrial process, you may want to consider taking a trip to the West Bay to check out Wedding Doll (Hatuna MeNiyar), an Israeli drama opening at San Francisco’s Roxie Theatre on Friday, July 1st (no East Bay play dates are currently scheduled).
A slight disclaimer is in order: despite its setting, Wedding Doll isn’t entirely focused upon the production of bath tissue. In actuality, it’s the story of a developmentally disabled young woman named Hagit (Moran Rosenblatt, who bears more than a slight resemblance to Amelie-period Audrey Tautou) employed as a packager in a down-at-heel TP manufactory.
Our twenty-something heroine may still live at home with overprotective mother Sara (Assi Levy), but her job has given her a measure of independence – and she’s ready for more. Hagit envisions marrying factory owner’s son Omri (Roy Assaf), who’s pushing the old man to modernize the plant in order to keep it open and competitive.
Alas, Dad has other ideas: he’s tired of the business and plans to close down. Closing means that Hagit will lose her job – and that, in the absence of suitable employment, her remarkably unsupportive family (including estranged father Moshe and brother Khen) will put renewed pressure on Sara to institutionalize the poor girl.
This is the film’s first significant misstep. Hagit’s disability seems to be quite minor indeed, expressed primarily by relentless smiling and a predilection for crafting bridal dolls from discarded toilet paper rolls. In all other respects she seems perfectly normal – so if she’s able to hold down a job, take care of herself, and have routine conversations with people, why on Earth would she need to be put in care?
Misstep number two comes hot on number one’s heels. When Omri tells his friends he’s moving to the big city (presumably to spite his father), they throw him a going-away party with lots of alcohol and bad EDM. A practical joke in which Hagit is tricked into believing the party is actually her much-anticipated wedding ceremony goes horribly wrong, after which the film grinds towards an unsatisfying conclusion.
Perhaps one needs a better understanding of Israeli attitudes towards the disabled and/or an understanding of the Hebrew language to fully appreciate Wedding Doll. Despite its obvious good intentions, however, much of the film left me incredulous.
Should you find yourself at the Roxie on Friday, July 1st (and in the mood for something a little fluffier), you might want to check out the double-bill scheduled to screen at 7:00 p.m. that evening in their main auditorium. John Carpenter’s Escape from New York (1981) and Escape from L.A. (1996) are on offer, and while I’ve never seen the latter, the former is one of the director’s best efforts from his mid-70s through mid-80s purple patch.
A huge box office hit on the continent (though not so much at home), Escape sparked a number of Italian knock-offs (Escape From the Bronx, 1990, The Bronx Warriors, 2019 After the Fall of New York, and others) with its gleeful blending of action and spaghetti western tropes. Featuring Kurt Russell, Donald Pleasence (as the American President!!), Ernest Borgnine, Lee Van Cleef, and Harry Dean Stanton), Escape from New York is tremendous fun – and about as believable as Wedding Doll.
Berkeleyside’s film writer John Seal writes a column in The Phantom of the Movies’ Videoscope, an old-fashioned paper magazine, published quarterly. Read more from Big Screen Berkeley on Berkeleyside.
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