Directed By: Avi Nesher
Screenplay By: Avi Nesher
Based on the novel by Amir Gutfreund
Produced By: Evyatar Dotan
Cast: Adir Miller, Maya Daga, Tuval Shafir, Neta Porat, Tom Gal, Dror Keren
MPAA Rating: NR
Runtime: 112 minutes
Review Date: October 27, 2010
A matchmaker, and even The Matchmaker, specializes in finding true love for even the most undesirable people. You never question a matchmaker’s advice and recommendation, especially when The Matchmaker is Yankele Bride (Adir Miller), a beast of a man who just survived life in “there.” But what makes Yankele Bride different from most matchmakers is the fact his reach goes far beyond eternal love and romance.
Arik (Tuval Shafir) is a teenager just trying to escape his parents’ constant hovering to enjoy his youth with his best friend Benny (Tom Gal). His parents survived and returned from “there,” the term used to describe the Holocaust and its camps. Arik is continually intrigued about his parents’ lives during this time period, yet they offer next to nothing on their tales, merely refer to it as “there.” Arik in turn, seeks information from the library, where he befriends the librarian Meir (Dror Keren).
After playing a trick on Yankele Bride, Arik realizes Yankele came from his father’s town before they went “there,” which rekindles the old men’s friendship. After this development, Arik begins an apprenticeship for Yankele, which includes spying on those seeking matches to ensure they really are serious about meeting someone and not engaging in “extra curricular” activities on the side.
When Arik’s not gallivanting in the library or spying on locals, he’s hanging out with his friend Benny (Tom Gal). Benny’s rebellious and attractive cousin Tamara (Neta Porat) comes to stay with his family making Arik immediately move from the boyish boy to the hormone pumping teenager.
Throughout The Matchmaker, we see Arik continually seeking to build his relationship with his father by learning of other people’s lives and tales while over “there.” Along the way, he’s learning the proper way to treat a woman, be a stand up citizen and learn the value of staying true to those you are friends with, making Yankele Bridle’s matchmaking skills reach much farther than most matchmakers.
As the film takes place in Israel, you get a glimpse of the Holocaust in a light most Americans rarely see, the aftermath after some time passes from leaving the camps and the attempt to raise families despite the past. The Matchmaker is a moving piece touching on familial love, childhood love and the love we all seek in each other and ourselves.
Hanna Soltys is a green tea drinker and film critic living in Chicago.