Late Marriage (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This is a highly-acclaimed (86% positive reviews) dramedy about the marriage dilemma some ancient cultures impose on their modern-thinking youth, who must choose between honoring their families and accepting a mate in a family arrangement, or asserting their independence. In this case, the culture in the spotlight is the community of Georgian Jews relocated to Israel.

Many people praised the home-spun wit of the film and declared it to be My Big Fat Georgian Wedding. Frankly, I thought that was a bad comparison. My Big Fat Greek Wedding is folksy and far from slick, but it is still a professional production. Late Marriage is amateur hour, a similar experience to watching a high school production of I Remember Mama, except with lower production values, and with Georgians instead of Scandinavians. I didn't find it very moving, and the ending is frustrating because it just sort of drifts off. Some of the performers are obviously amateurs (including the director's own mom in a key role), and the direction rises no higher than the level of "pedestrian." There is so little camera movement that it makes Clerks seem like Domino. Many praised the comedy in Late Wedding, but the comedy pacing is all wrong for modern ears. Although it is a modern Israeli film in color, it reminds me of an old B&W American sitcom from the 50s, sorta like I Married Joan without the laugh track. It seems that one performer delivers his lines stiffly, then the next speaker pauses, waiting for a laugh that never comes. On the other hand, maybe the script is incredibly funny by Georgian standards. The only other Georgian I can think of is Stalin, and I'd probably have to concede that writer/director Dover Kosashvili is funnier than Stalin.

The film is interesting as a crash course in Georgian culture, of which I knew so little beforehand. I would not have guessed that such a primitive set of marriage rituals had endured seventy years of the Soviet Union and another decade or so of modern Israel. I was surprised to see that the cultural hold was still so strong on the otherwise modern-thinking Ph.D that he finally gave up on his beloved, beautiful, and sexy Moroccan divorcee in order to please his mother and marry a nice Georgian Jewish virgin.

The film's strongest redeeming grace is a long sex scene between the goofy young intellectual and the Moroccan woman. That scene appears to be a genuine bit of lovemaking between two loving people familiar with one another's bodies and preferences. It's not especially explicit, but unlike most sex scenes in the movies, it actually gives off the feeling that we are spying and eavesdropping on two real people talking and loving and resting and talking again and loving again. This is one case where the lack of sophisticated camera work may actually have increased the sense of realism. But even the sex scene, like almost everything in this film, drags on too long.

But what do I know? Critics raved about the film, and the IMDb score is good (7.3). It even managed to gross $1.5 million in the USA, which is pretty impressive for a film in Georgian, because it obviously couldn't have been generated by the vast hordes of curious Georgian-speaking ticket buyers.



  • The widescreen transfer is anamorphically enhanced (16x9)



Lior Ashkenazi - the full monty, including an erection on camera.

Ronit Elkabetz - all parts of her body, but nothing explicit.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Roger Ebert 3/4

  • British consensus out of four stars: three stars. Telegraph 7/10, Independent 7/10, Guardian 9/10, Times 8/10, Standard 7/10, BBC 4/5.

The People Vote ...

  • Box Office Mojo. Surprisingly high gross! It grossed $1.6 million, despite never having reached more than 38 theaters.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, I reckon the score must be a C. If you are interested in a painless learning experience about an obscure culture, and are generally OK with subtitles, you may join the vast majority of critics as a fan of the film, even though I did not.

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