Thursday, June 24, 2021

Israel Film Center Festival Spotlight: Kiss Me Kosher

Kiss Me Kosher
Directed by Shirel Peleg
Screening Information

Meeting a partner’s parents for the first time is often a stressful experience for many reasons. Even under the best of circumstances, there can still be issues to overcome, especially something that has already been dealt with by a couple but might be reopened when family members come into the picture. A true connection between two people might be enough to weather the potential conflicts that emerge, but they can also do serious damage to that bond. Two partners from completely different worlds can still find happiness, but it’s often a rocky and difficult road to get there.

German Maria Müller (Luise Wolfram) arrives in Israel to see her girlfriend Shira Shalev (Moran Rosenblatt) and accidentally proposes to her, a decision she hadn’t yet arrived at for a relatively young relationship. Shira being a lesbian isn’t an issue for her family, which includes her videographer brother Liam (Eyal Shikratzi), soldier sister Ella (Aviv Pinkas), overbearing mother Ora (Irit Kaplan), and American father Ron (John Carroll Lynch), but the fact that Luise is German poses a bigger problem, particularly with her Holocaust survivor grandmother Berta (Rivka Michaeli), who is involved in a controversial flirtatious romance of her own with an Arab neighbor, Ibrahim (Salim Dau).

This film, originally released as “Kiss Me Before It Blows Up,” is a comedy above all else, heightening its scenarios so that the odds are really stacked against Shira and Maria at all times. Within moments of arriving, Maria meets the first of a revolving door of Shira’s omnipresent exes, and Liam’s eagerness to make a documentary about their love highlights unfortunate truths that are better not said. Luise’s wholehearted attempts to learn Hebrew and blend in with her newfound culture aren’t always received well, and Shira is far more casual about the noteworthiness of their differences that might serve as an impediment to their strength as a couple.

This film is full of fun performances, led by Rosenblatt, a familiar face from “Wedding Doll” and “Red Cow,” and Wolfram, who certainly stands out from the rest of the cast physically but matches them in talent. Kaplan and Michaeli are particularly entertaining in supporting roles, and Dau, recently seen in “Oslo,” is an endearing delight. There are moments in which this film ventures too far into absurdity, particularly in its portrayal of Ron, who speaks absolutely no Hebrew and doesn’t feel at all fleshed out as a character, and the eagerness with which people spew half-considered reductive statements. But, overall, it’s enjoyable and a perfectly decent and memorable piece of entertainment.


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