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BEST MAN'S WEDDING, THE (JALLA! JALLA!)

SYNOPSIS: 
Lebanese-born Roro (Fares Fares) and his best friend Måns (Torkel Petersson) work as city park keepers in a Swedish town. Roro is in madly love with Swedish girl Lisa (Tuva Novotny), while Måns struggles with a unique impotency problem that is upsetting his girlfriend Jenny (Sofi Ahlström Helleday). When Roro’s traditional Lebanese family bullies him to get married and introduces him to Yasmin (Laleh Pourkarim), he feels torn. Yasmin’s brother Paul (Leonard Terfelt) is adamant he’ll send Yasmin back to their mother in Lebanon immediately if the wedding isn’t announced. The youngsters devise a delaying tactic that backfires, and Jenny leaves Måns, who takes his frustrations out on the furniture and lands in jail overnight – where a strange epiphany occurs that alters his and his friends’ lives.


Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Like an energetic puppy, The Best Man’s Wedding – or just Jalla! Jalla! (hurry, hurry) – scampers all over the place and yaps with good natured frolic - and leaves the odd mess around the place. All the characters are brought to vibrant life by a terrific ensemble cast, ranging from the un-assimilated Lebanese family to the unfortunate Måns, whose penile problems permeate the film’s plot. This, and a couple of other elements, are stretched awfully thin, and I feel the film would have been an ideal one hour telemovie (not a commercial hour of 50 minutes, though). There is also much to like: the film’s naturalistic tone is maintained for almost the entire film and the humour is oh so painfully accessible while the predicament of the youngsters is all too pathetically real. With a keen sense of visual style to generate pace (sometimes when there isn’t any in the script), there is no doubt that Josef Fares is a talented filmmaker, but a tougher, more demanding script editing process would have served him well. He does manage to touch on cross cultural and sexual issues with a humorous wand, balancing moments of sweetness with the matter of fact sexual content. As a matter of fact, we could have done with a touch of eroticism here and there. Discovery of the Year at the 2001 European Film Awards, a festival favourite around the world and a nominee for Sweden’s Best Film award, Jalla! Jalla! was a big smash in Sweden. I am not so sure it’ll be quite as popular here.

Review by Louise Keller:
There’s an old Swedish saying that goes: ‘The road to true love and happiness is paved with misadventures…’ And the word ‘misadventures’ has never seemed more delightful, than in The Best Man’s Wedding, a warm and funny buddy movie about relationships, sex and weddings – in that order. The sub-title of Jalla! Jalla! meaning ‘Come on! Or Hurry up!’ in Arabic, reflects the cultural conundrum, and injects a flippant urgency. The film quickly establishes the characters, and although Roro and Måns are on the same wave length at work, it’s not until we see them at home that the background cultural differences are made apparent. Roro is just like any other Swedish guy – except that he is Lebanese, and his home is like little Lebanon. There’s not only his strong-willed father (what a great performance by Jan Fares!), but an endless stream of interfering, well-meaning relations who (like those in My Big Fat Greek Wedding) believe in ethnic marriages, and arranged ones to boot. Måns’ life with his Swedish girlfriend is in a rut, but his newly discovered impotence kidnaps his life. He starts watching couples in the park, and then things get hilarious when he ventures into a sex shop, looking for useful toys. But sex toys come with problems, and we get to see them all – from whips to enlarging pumps, juxtaposed with vacuum cleaners demonstrated by an eager door-to-door salesman. The whole film rolls out like a playful comedy of errors – the talking bird that utters profundities at the worst possible moment, the divine and harebrained episode with Rambo the dog, the hysterical brother intent on planning the whole wedding catastrophe with a multi-layered cake, and the father whose unlikely stomach butt comes in handy at the most unexpected times! The performances are wonderful, and are played as straight as an arrow. The characters are as different as herrings with a side serve of kebabs. As for the film’s most romantic moment – somewhat unexpected – occurs on a park bench in the most unromantic situation that involves a blood-stained tissue stuffed up the nose and a squashed fly in the eye. Bizarre? Indeed. Of course we have a pretty good idea where everything is leading, but we have such a good time on the way, that nothing spoils the fun. As for the climactic wedding party scene – let me just say, that you won’t be disappointed. And as the old Swedish song goes – ‘Love is a many cultural thing.’

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

TRAILER

BEST MAN'S WEDDING, THE (JALLA! JALLA!) (M)
(Sweden)

CAST: Fares Fares, Torkel Petersson, Tuva Novotny, Laleh Pourkarim, Jan Fares, Sofi Ahlström Helleday, Leonard Terfelt

PRODUCER: Anna Anthony

DIRECTOR: Josef Fares

SCRIPT: Josef Fares

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Aril Wretblad

EDITOR: Michal Leszczylowski, Anduas Jonsson

MUSIC: Daniel Lemma

PRODUCTION DESIGN: not credited

RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Palace Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 21, 2002 (Sydney, Melbourne)







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