Friday, 16 October 2015

BFI Film Festival - Wedding Doll

Every year, the films I pick at the festival always seem to follow a theme without me realising. One year it was all about fathers and daughters, another year was all about the rule of 3, this year, its been about women. Maybe its the films or I unconsciously picked them because the stories were about women or made by women.

The two films I saw today were both about women and were both written and directed by men. One film (which I will post later) was Palestinian and Wedding Doll is an Israeli film.
 Wedding Doll is a drama about a young women, Hagit, with learning disabilities who is obsessed with being married and having a wedding. She lives with her mother, Sarah, who over protective and doesn't allow her daughter much independance. Hagit works in a small family run toilet paper factory where she seems happy, making little wedding dolls from the toilet rolls. She is also secretly meeting up with her employee's son, Omri. But when it is announced that the factory will close, Sarah starts to worry even more. She is late to work, misses dates with her boyfriend and restricts Hagit is many things, including what jobs to apply for. With the factory closing, Omri decides to leave town but on the night before his friends meet at the facory for 'going away' party and ask Hagit to come along, pretending its a wedding. Hagit dresses in a creation of her own, a wedding dress constructed from metal hoops and toilet rolls.
The story is understated and the performances brilliant, especially Moran Rosenblatt as Hagit. Focusing on mostly on Hagit and how she wishes to be independant and be 'normal' and then on the mother daughter relationship. At times Hagit wants to be on her own but Sarah is the one that needs stability and over protects her daughter, she seems to prefer routine. Every morning Hagit tries to get away from her mother giving her a lift to work but by the end of the day, she is smiling at her mother who collects her at the end of the day. At one point, Sarah, overwhelmed at what to do, falls asleep in linen cupboard at the hotel where she works and forgets to collect Hagit. Hagit, just looks for a moment at the empty space then walks home. She is capable of doing things by herself when given the chance, it's just a shame her mother doesn't see this. Sarah always seemd to be saying 'I haven't found a solution for Hagit'. Yet the solution is right under her nose. There are hints to past trauma that make actions from other characters understandable. Hagit's brother is unhappy to see his mother when Hagit is mentioned, Sarah apologises for her actions saying it was an accident. Hagit keeps scratching a scare on her back, this is mentioned a couple of times that children attacked her after she thought she was being invited to play with them. There isn't really any closure concerning the mother and daughter, just that they move on to another place together. A few people in the Q&A mentioned that this was sad as Hagit still hadn't gotten away. Rosenblatt said that she would have ended the film a scene earlier to avoid that frame, but the director Nitzan Giladysaid that after test screenings, the audience wanted more. But at that point the film ended with Hagit wandering into the dark. I think the ending was fine, if a bit too quick. I would have liked to see or have a hint to Hagit getting at least one wish.
Another element in the story was the relationship between Omri and Hagit. At first it seemed that the attraction was one sided with Omri just being nice. But, as with a few other things in the film, the two have a routine. He throws stones up at her window and they meet on the edge of town and look out at the crater. He is sweet to her, admiring her skills at making delicate dolls and even makes some binoculars out of toilet roll for her. They kiss but that is all, it seems, which is all thats needed in the film. Throughout the film is becomes more and more obvious that Omri really does have feelings for Hagit, but he is ashamed to tell his friends and doesn't truely openly admitt that he does to Hagit. Another part to this, which is also upsetting, is that Omri's father really likes Hagit at the factory, looking out for her and allowing her to make toilet roll art on the wall. But as soon as he finds out that his son and her could be more, he shuts everything down. He doesn't want that to go further. This just adds to a feeling of rejection towards Hagit which makes her a sympathetic character whom you desparately want her to have something good happen or at least have hope. Maybe the ending could have been different? Although you feel the most for Hagit, you also get to see and understand from Sarah's point of view too.

This is Nitzan Gilady debut feature film and I really enjoyed this story and loved the two central characters. Gilady said, in the Q&A that he tried to be actor first in USA, where he was typecast as a terroist and in Israel where he didn't have much luck either. He wrote the film while living in the town where the film is set and filmed. Someone asked, 'why toilet paper'? and he laughed and said that he was depressed and that he didn't like living there. The end of the film, Hagit and Sarah leave, so this might be that same need that Gilady had when he was writing. He also mentioned that the inspiration for the idea for the film came from when he was doing street theatre. Three women were dressed in dresses similar to the one Hagit constructs, they roamed the streets looking for a husband. He said he had a photograph of one of these women screaming. He was transfixed by this and wondered what type of person this could be. It's definitely a bizarre origin story of a story.

As I said, I really enjoyed this film, possibley one of my favourites and I'm only a little halfway through.

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