Writer-director Dover Koshashvili’s Hatuna Meuheret addresses the assimilation of an immigrant family. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Zaza (Lior Ashkenazi, pitch-perfect and Belmondo-hilarious) and his parents settled in a Georgian community in a suburb of Tel Aviv. Whereas the parents want only to continue, transplanted, their former life, Zaza is desirous of both maintaining his Georgian roots and fitting in. Reflecting this ambivalence of his, at university he is, Hamlet-like, continually unable to complete his doctoral dissertation on the existence of God.
Zaza’s fundamentalist parents want their 31-year-old son to marry, towards which end they arrange family meetings with suitable candidates. The girl should be a virgin, hopefully, rich, and not just Jewish but Georgian Jewish. Indeed, the folks have picked out a highschooler as their prospective daughter-in-law; behind the closed door of her sanctuary-bedroom, Ilana rules Zaza much as her mother and Zaza’s wield the upper hand in their marriages. Meanwhile, Zaza has his own lady friend: Judith, a Morrocan divorcée with a six-year-old daughter, Madonna—a name that bespeaks modernity. When he inevitably makes the marital choice that he does (after his parents have humiliated him and Judith, who, forecasting the inevitable, dumps him), Zaza isn’t capitulating to his parents’ wishes so much as postponing, perhaps to the next generation, the issue of the competing claims on him. Ironically, Judith’s own experience as an immigrant might have helped Zaza bridge some of the cultural and mental ruptures in which he is embroiled.
Zaza’s complex predicament shifts the ground from social comedy to social tragedy. An unloving marriage exacts its own price on its participants, while at the same time paving the generational way to a different result—but one that will likely retain some DNA of its miserable past.
Families remain families over time.
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