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Sensitive romance is the story behind ‘Wedding Doll’

Pretty and with an innocent disposition, Hagit is a diligent worker in an Israeli toilet paper factory. She’s in a discreet romance with the owner’s son, and dreams of becoming a bride and a bridal fashion designer.

But the strong-willed Hagit (Moran Rosenblatt), 24, is also mentally disabled, and her struggle for independence heightens when the factory is threatened with closure.

“Wedding Doll” is Israeli filmmaker Nitzan Gilady’s directorial debut, and it’s beautifully made. That’s apparent in sight and sound from the opening scene, as Hagit makes one of the hundreds of miniature wedding figures from toilet paper rolls that line her bedroom shelves.

The film’s backdrop is the stark town of Mitzpe Ramon, on the Negev desert. Inside the family-owned factory, Omri (Roy Assaf), Hagit’s love interest, cuts the rolls one at a time while Hagit packages them for shipping. A sculpture Hagit made from the rolls is on a wall.

Hagit is happy at her job, but her life outside it is full of frustrations.

Because of her naïveté, Hagit’s deeply anguished mother (Asi Levy) locks her daughter in their apartment when she leaves for trysts with her boyfriend to keep her from going out alone at night, and insists on driving her to work, both of which Hagit rebels against. The need for constant care takes a toll on the mom, who gets no support from her ex-husband or boyfriend, and may lose her job at a hotel because of being late for work after the morning searches for Hagit.

Worried about losing the safety of her factory job, Hagit applies for a wedding shop seamstress position lugging sketches drawn of wedding dresses that are of no interest to the owner. A lifelong target of cruel behavior, Hagit is tormented by a neighborhood child who calls her “weirdo.”

Meanwhile, both Hagit and Omri keep their relationship a secret. Hagit conceals it from her mother, while Omri hides it from his parents and from friends who dismiss Hagit, raising doubts about just how committed he is to her.

The film takes an unexpected turn in the climactic scene, which includes the shock of seeing Hagit in a hooped bridal gown made from toilet paper rolls.

“Wedding Doll” offers a sensitive portrayal of Hagit finding small and hard-earned victories along the way, and the acting, especially by Rosenblatt and Levy, is spot-on.

A supporting nod goes to the toilet paper factory, not exactly your everyday setting for a film.

email: msommer@buffnews.com

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