‘Michal’s getting married and she hasn’t got a groom yet.’
Personal desires and social expectations are reflected in the needs of heroine Michal (Noa Kooler) in Through the Wall, but the combination of traditional values and an eccentric thirty-something woman’s need for romance offers a different – and therefore very welcome – perspective for the too-often predictable rom-com genre.
As part of the Hasidic community of Tel Aviv, Michal is planning her wedding, kneading dough and acquiring enough dough to cover the costs of the celebrations. But as she plans her wedding, even going as far as to taste the banquet menu, her fiancé calls the whole thing off. But that does not deter Michal, whose desire ‘to love and be loved back,’ means she plans the wedding anyway. The location of festivities is booked and the date set for the 8th day of Hanukkah. Which results in something of a time limit for her betrothal. So it’s time to seek a better prospective husband and she starts dating once more, meeting a variety of potential suitors. As the date approaches, she has the dress, the venue and the invitations have been sent, but does she find the groom?
The opening section of the film leaves the purpose of this distinctly unusual rom-com a little ill-defined but as soon as Michal’s motivation and the unique nature of her character becomes clear the situations emerge to make you root for her to choose the right guy, if she can find one who is actually available. Her unusual outlook on life even extends to her choice of career – running a mobile petting zoo – which leads to self-doubt as she worries about being perceived as ‘a delicate woman with mice and snakes.’ The central protagonist is played with enthusiastic aplomb by Noa Kooler who won best actress for her role in the Haifa Film Festival 2016. Her suitors range from an admirer in the shape of fan-girl favourite rock star Yoss (Oz Zehavi), as well as men she had previously declined to meet via her dating connections. She is confused by an instantaneous proposal for marriage from one, which seems like a modus operandi from the man in question – ‘Have you proposed like this before?’ she asks, before quickly deciding that he’s not for her. She trusts in her faith, declaring, ‘God can easily come up with my groom,’ even as time begins to run out.
Through the Wall has a good prime concept: a bride has mere days to find a groom in order to pull off a romantic wedding – but it has to sustain the level of credibility in the story for it to work, which it just about manages. Michal’s self definition of ‘I want to feel normal’ is intrinsic to the narrative, it’s just that her definition of normality is distinctly odd, both to the other characters as well as the audience which, of course, adds to the film’s charm. The piece has a dry sense of humour which is primarily based on the absurdity of situations rather than any slapstick stupidity.
Romantic and funny, Through the Wall is a rom-com that is refreshingly different.