Late Marriage, a remarkable debut film from Dover Kosashvili, premiering in Geneva at the Smith Opera House this Thursday, is a very funny, but sometimes painful account of one man's late journey of self-discovery that explores the conflict between following one's heart and following the demands of tradition.
In a Soviet Georgian émigré community of Tel Aviv, Zaza (Lior Loui Ashkenazi) is thirty-one years old, and his parents, Yasha (Moni Moshonov) and Lily (the director's own mother, Lili Kosashvili), are supporting him while he attends grad school. They believe in the traditions of “the old country,” and they are distraught and embarrassed because their only son is not married. After many abortive attempts to arrange a marriage for him, they discover that Zaza is having a torrid affair with Judith (Ronit Elkabetz). Zaza's parents won't let him marry Judith because she's older than Zaza, she's divorced, and she has a nine-year-old daughter, Madona (Sapir Kugman).
Kosashvili, who, like his characters, is a Georgian-born Israeli, has conceived an intriguing dissection of Georgian family tradition, which is at once treated with respect and contempt. The film's mordant wit takes effect early on with a richly detailed scene in which Zaza and his parents meet the family of a beautiful 17-year-old girl to strike a marriage deal. In what feels like a bizarre bargaining ritual, the harsh customs of old-fashioned Georgian life are exposed as the families scrutinize Zaza's qualities. As with the rest of the movie, the pacing of the scene is deliberate, the style is spare, and the effect is comical and tense. But this scene is merely a prelude to just how strange and ruthless tradition can get.
Late Marriage will be screened October 3, 4, 5 and 6. Showtimes are 7 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Its running time is 1 hour, 40 minutes. In Hebrew and Georgian with subtitles, this film is unrated. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens. All seats on Thursday are $3.
The Smith Opera House is located at 82 Seneca Street in Geneva. Call 315-781-LIVE or toll-free 1-866-355 LIVE for additional information.