fauxklore (fauxklore) wrote,

Northern Virginia Jewish Film Festival - A Matter of Size

I've seen a few movies in the past few weeks, what with HBO in hotels and spending time on airplanes and using a free movie certificate to see the silly and disappointing Date Night. Typically, I'm reminded of why I'm more of a theatre person. But film festivals are a chance to see things worth seeing and last night's opening event for the Northern Virginia Jewish Film Festival (which included dinner at the Jewish Community Center) was a good example.

A Matter of Size has to do with Herzl, a man who has been mocked for being fat his entire life. It opens with a scene of children waiting in line to be weighed and then moves quickly to a weigh-in at a diet club. He's kicked out of the diet club, quits his job at a restaurant when he is relegated to the kitchen to avoid offending customers, and has to deal with his mother yelling at him that he's going to die from his fat just like his father did. (A flashback later in the film explains this and it is decidedly unexpected.) His mother pushes him to get a job at a Japanese restaurant on the grounds that the food will be disgusting and he won't be tempted to eat it. So he ends up washing dishes there. His coworkers show him sumo wrestling on TV and he finally sees something fat people can be respected for. So he goes back to the diet club, tells off the mean owner, and talks a few of his friends from it into quitting the diet and joining him in a sumo club.

The friends have their issues, too. Aharon thinks his wife is cheating on him. Gidi is gay and closeted. Sami longs for success as a documentary journalist. And then there is Zahava, who Herzl is in love with. The weakest story line has to do with her job as a social worker at a prison. She's also been married and divorced twice, because she can't stand liars. Women aren't allowed in sumo, so Herzl says he'll quit for her. Remember that she can't stand liars?

The scenes of their sumo training (with the restaurant owner putting them through their paces) are beautiful. There is plenty of humor, with surprisingly few fat jokes (though there are some). While the film is nominally about sumo, it is really about self-esteem and love. There are some predictable aspects (e.g. the truth about Aharon's wife's infidelity) but it isn't like one expects great originality from romantic comedy. Overall, I thought this was a very enjoyable and sweet film.

I've heard that there is going to be an American remake of this. I can only hope it can keep the same warm tone.
Tags: movies

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