'Valeria is Getting Married': Story of a mail-order Ukrainian bride - review

Published date23 March 2023
Publication titleJerusalem Post, The: Web Edition Articles (Israel)
Christina, a Russian-speaking woman from Ukraine, has already gotten married a few years before the movie starts, to Michael (Yaakov Zada Daniel), an Israeli who brokers such marriages. It is Michael who arranges the marriage for Valeria (Dasha Tvoronovich) to come and marry in Israel and at the beginning of the story, Christina awaits her sister happily but also a little anxiously

The title of the film really ought to be Is Valeria Getting Married? because Christina knows that this kind of mail-order partnership is not a done deal.

Is Valeria Getting Married?

This movie, which was conceived and filmed before the war in Ukraine broke out, is a realistic-feeling story about women who will do almost anything to leave behind the poverty in which they grew up and the men who choose to marry women in such desperate straits.

It is hard not to pity the women who enter into such unions and equally hard to not judge the men who marry them. But such marriages do exist – all over the world – and writer/director Michal Vinik takes a clear look at the issue in this film. While the story is told mostly through Christina's point of view – and her divided loyalties are the real drama here – there are no villains.

"You see, in this world, there is one awful thing and that is that everyone has his reasons."

Jean Renoir

This movie is a great illustration of the quote from Jean Renoir in The Rules of the Game: "You see, in this world, there is one awful thing and that is that everyone has his reasons."

Vinik manages to explore everyone's reasons in this engaging, thought-provoking film but her sympathies and ours, are with the women. Christina lives with Michael in an immaculate apartment in a not-particularly attractive housing development somewhere in Israel. She has played the game by the rules and is reaping the rewards. She dresses nicely and has a job at a nail salon, where she has a Russian-speaking friend who is her closest confidant in Israel. She has learned Hebrew quite well and is converting to Judaism.

Michael doesn't seem to be a bad guy and he has held up his end of the bargain. But into her well-ordered life comes Valeria, her more free-spirited sister, who arrives from Ukraine because Michael has arranged for her to marry an awkward man named Eitan (Avraham Shalom Levi). Christina is overjoyed at the idea of having her sister back in her life but she is also scared: What if things don't go well between Valeria and Eitan? She is worried not only for her...

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