Moran Rosenblatt in Wedding Doll (Outsider Pictures)

Moran Rosenblatt in Wedding Doll (Outsider Pictures)

Hagit is obsessed with wedding dresses. Her bedroom wall is covered with photos of models in white gowns, and she spends her off-hours sketching and making little bride dolls out of paper. Living with a mild mental disability, Hagit’s fascination with weddings represents a kind of independence that maybe not be completely possible.

Hagit (Moran Rosenblatt) lives with her overprotective mother, Sara (Assi Levy), a divorcee who works at a nearby hotel as a chambermaid. Striving for some independence, Hagit has a job at a local toilet paper factory, where she thrives. This is due in no small part to the attention paid to her by Omri (Roy Assaf), the factory owner’s son, with whom Hagit has begun a romantic relationship. They meet in secret on the cliffs of the Israeli Negev desert, and she dreams of their wedding and life together.

Sara struggles to keep all the pieces of her life together. Preoccupied with Hagit’s well-being, she’s putting aside her own private life. This is understandable; Hagit, left unsupervised. was once injured by local children bullying her. Sara also has a problematic relationship with her son, who’s been avoiding Hagit ever since she accidentally dropped his baby daughter. Hagit’s father, though very present in her brother’s life, rarely visits her. Sara is slowly coming to terms with the likelihood that she may need to put the headstrong Hagit in assisted living.

While the beginning of the film feels a bit like a romantic comedy, it becomes clear that this story is murkier. Elements are reminiscent of the now-classic Australian comedy Muriel’s Wedding, which, while way more comedic than the melancholic Wedding Doll, addresses an obsession with wedding culture. However, Doll never shies away from the complicated reality Hagit faces. Depicting a mental disability on film is always tricky, and Rosenblatt does a fine job balancing Hagit’s inherent sweetness with an underlying sense of frustration. The romance between Hagit and Omri is left fairly ambiguous. Perhaps purposefully so, viewers may waver between feeling excitement for Hagit and concern about Omri’s intentions.

The story bounces a bit from character to character so that the audience never gets to know any one of them completely; there may be a bit too much going on for one film that deals with a lot of serious issues. Gilady, however, creates a sense of a well-lived in world. He also superbly utilizes the location of the Israeli desert. The juxtaposition between the architecture and the landscape creates a feeling of disconnect but also of stark beauty.  This is especially true of shots of Sara working at the hotel, with the blue of the swimming pool contrasting with the desert. As with Hagit’s dolls, Gilady gives his intimate drama a distinct texture.

Written, Produced, and Directed by Nitzan Gilady
Released by Outsider Pictures
Hebrew with English subtitles
Israel. 82 min. Not rated
With Moran Rosenblatt, Assi Levy, Roy Assaf, and Aryeh Cherner