By Richard von Busack
A mawkish knockoff of The Glass Menagerie, distinguished by fine desert-scapes of the Negev, Wedding Doll tells of Hagit (Moran Rosenblatt), a brain-damaged 24-year-old lady employed by a small and dying toilet paper factory. Hagit’s head is full of visions of brides and weddings. Her obsession is to make tiny cardboard bridal dolls, veiled and robed in comfort tissue.
With her too-wide smile and her too-brightly colored clothes, Hagit is being covertly romanced by the son of the factory owner, Omri (Roy Assaf). Her mother, Sara (Assi Levi) watches her daughter ceaselessly, since the young woman is often the victim of bullying.
Their faraway town in Israel is on the palisade of a cliff overlooking the desert; whenever Hagit can escape her mom’s vigilance, she waits in the twilight at a vista point for Omri to show up for a quick kiss. It’s a keen visual contrast by cinematographer Roi Rot—the end of the world view on one side; the dead-end town on the other.
Director/writer Nitzan Gilady stacks up the circumstances against Hagit—we can’t figure out why she’s supposed to be an abused village idiot instead of a kind of mascot for this forlorn place, or why an unsupervised little girl keeps showing up to torment Hagit and call her “Weirdo.”
Despite the movie’s dire contrast between our sweetest dreams and our corrupt, toilet-paper-using bodies, Wedding Doll isn’t completely thick. When Omri’s father discovers his son’s interest in poor Hagit, he takes a time-out: He goes outside to think about what to say and do. It’s not the reaction we expect; the older man, bald and bull-necked, is as no-nonsense as a cop.
It’s bathos galore when Hagit turns up for further punishment in a fancy loo-paper gown—a last step on her journey from gullibility to wisdom. Good looking as the movie is—and good looking as Rosenblatt is, with an inconquerable grin reminiscent of the young Travolta’s—Wedding Doll inevitably calls up memories of a certain speech by Robert Downey, Jr. in Tropic Thunder.
‘Wedding Doll’ opens on Friday, July 1 at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center; rafaelfilm.cafilm.org.