The Lovers & The Wedding Plan

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis

The Lovers & The Wedding Plan

The barren movie landscape of early summer brings us two movies that, if not great, are worth the trip for some of you. THE LOVERS focuses on the boredom of a middle aged couple who indulge in affairs to lighten their lives. The Wedding Plan follows a young bride deserted by her fiancé who decides to find a new groom and proceed with the wedding. Each movie probes the ingredients of marriage at different ages. One is American made, the other is entirely Israeli. If neither is thoroughly absorbing, each has some strong performances.

The Lovers is one long, slow trip through the love lives of a middle-aged husband and wife who are lighting their newly dull lives by having affairs with others. Before you hit delete, credit Debra Winger and Tracy Letts with good performances that save the movie from mediocrity.

Mary (Winger) finds Robert (Aiden Gillen) while Michael (Letts) meets Lucy (Melora Walters) for indulgent sex while in their home life they merely pass in the night. Just as their non-relationship begins to bore us, it becomes clear that director Jacobs is creating the familiar vacuum that frequently infects middle-aged couples after their children have grown and gone. In the absence of real drama, the audience is free to wish them both the best and to understand why they reach beyond their static lives. It’s a tour of marriage boredom rooted in respect.

 

The Lovers & The Wedding Plan

The Wedding Plan is an Israeli movie featuring Noa Koler as Michal, a bride deserted by her groom just a month before the wedding she had planned for the eighth night of Hanukkah. Koler’s Michal is a 32 year old woman fed up with both her home life and the dating game. She is lonely. When the groom vanishes along with her fantasies about married life, she decides to go ahead with the ceremony. She has one month to find a new groom and is firmly convinced her faith in God will help her do it.

Director Roma Burshtein and her lead actor Noa Koler create an eccentric character in Michal. She is cheerful on one hand, desperate on the other. Armed with charm, innocence. and her belief in God, she turns difficult as the men she meets disappoint her. She dreams of successes and failures. An appealing supporting cast supports Michal as best they can even though the odds are stacked against their friend who is trying to achieve her improbable dream.

Watching a comedy that is a sub-titled story rooted in another culture has its own reward. The inflections in their voices, their reactions to situations, the quirks of the culture make a fine background for the eccentric and appealing central performance by Noa Koler. Be prepared for the unexpected twist that comes after a few subtle clues but with a kick that makes us ask ourselves, “How did I miss that?”

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Film Title : The Lovers and The Wedding Plan
Word Count : 484
Running time : 1:34, 1:50
Rating : R, PG
Date : May 28, 2017

 

Paris Can Wait

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis

Paris Can Wait

See Paris Can Wait when you’re feeling peaceful. It’s a lovely, subtle portrait of a quiet woman who begins to discover who she is. That portrait is delivered by Diane Lane in grand collusion with Arnaud Viard. The movie unfolds in such a way that its fans and foes will be predictable. Men over 60 may find it boring. Women of that age may find it an intriguing new key to middle age. The old among us will love comparing today’s rules for women with those of our day. The certainty: there will be a follow-up movie.

Anne (Diane Lane) and her movie producer husband Michael (Alec Baldwin) have arrived at the Cannes Film Festival on a typical wife-supports-her- husband business trip. When Michael is summoned to another city, he leaves Anne in the hands of his business partner, Jacques, who turns the short trip to Paris into a two day tour of his favorite vistas, historic sites, and towns. At every mealtime Jacques produces a magical meal in a beautiful place. “This is the best time of year to eat young animals,” he says as the American hides one under her napkin.

Jacques’ attraction to Anne is an immediate given but it also becomes clear that in his mind, that will be her choice, not his. His specialty is the seductive process. As they travel, Anne takes dozens of pictures of everything with increasing attention to close ups of art and tapestry. She is falling in love with textures, and when Jacques looks at her pictures, he realizes she is discovering who she is and who she wants to be. His desire for an affair is enriched by wanting to help her see more of what she is discovering about herself.

As Anne begins, in several ways, to grow beyond the supportive wife role into self-discovery, a quiet feeling rolls over us. She will enrich her life in a way women have never, until quite recently, been encouraged to do. The light in Anne’s eyes tells us not what she will choose but that for the first time, she sees options. She has begun to discover herself.

Eleanor Coppola has written and directed this movie with such quiet beauty that nothing seems overdone. Successful husband Michael still loves his wife; Jacques wants an affair with her and Anne, for the moment anyway, has, in an involuntary way, found out who she wants to become. Instead of seeker and sought, they are equals contemplating future pleasures. Arnaud Viard’s courtship via beautiful food and flowers provides comic relief and future possibility.

We all owe a salute to Eleanor Coppola who has made a small film say so much that we suspect she has been there herself. No sermons here, just the quiet certainty that yes, there is someone else inside a woman when she reaches middle-age. She is just beginning. Diane Lane delivers a beautiful and very quiet portrait of a woman finding her core.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Film Title : Paris Can Wait
Word Count : 498
Running time: 1:32
Rating : PG
Date : May 21, 2017