Source: Menemsha Films

Review: 'Kiss Me Kosher' a Nimble, Politically Charged Queer Rom-Com

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 3 MIN.

Writer-director Shirel Peleg dances through a minefield of familial and political hot-button topics with this charming, lively rom-com.

Shira (Moran Rosenblatt) has had quite a run, tearing thorugh the single women of Tel Aviv's lesbian scene and leaving a trail of exes in her wake. Now, though, she's met Maria (Luise Wolfram), a German woman, for whom she ought to be totally wrong – they are as different as chalk and cheese, with Maria's teutonic precision and Shira's vivacious sloppiness. Somehow, though, they are just right for each other, and they have decided to move in together. In a moment that only a rom-com could devise, Maria ends up accidentally proposing to Shira.

News of the marriage spreads through Shira's family with everyone having their own reactions. Brother Liam (Eyal Shikratzi) – he seems gay, though his comedic simple-mindedness is more of a focus – wants to make a documentary of the wedding's preparations; Liam becomes a stand-in for the viewer, his lens providing intimate moments and an insider's perspective. (His prepared list of interview questions serve a different purpose: Cringe humor.)

Source: Menemsha Films

Shira's sentimental mother (Irit Kaplan) looks forward to the party, while her hard-liner father (John Carroll Lynch) lets it be known that he expects Maria to convert to Judaism, or "she can't carry my grandchildren." Conservative sister Ella (Eviv Pinkas), who rebukes Shira for her light-hearted life, is skeptical about her marrying a German – but not as opposed as Shira's grandmother, Berta (Rivka Michaeli), a Holocaust survivor.

Berta, though, has a potentially controversial romance of her own brewing with her Palestinian neighbor, Ibrahim (Salim Daw). Only gradually do we understand that this is not a sunset-years match, but a longtime attraction that's been simmering for what must have been decades – and that Berta is almost as opposed to her own attraction to Ibrahim as she is to Shira's love for Maria.

This all sounds pretty dramatic but keep in mind that, yes, this is a comedy. Peleg acknowledges deep historic and emotional undercurrents while keeping the action moving at a brisk clip and finding both humor and poignancy in the tensions that arise around questions like whether or not Maria's grandparents were Nazis. Maria's parents (Juliane Köhler and Bernhard Schütz) – still unmarried after all this time – show up in due course, and almost tip the balancing act over, but not quite.

The rom-com formula is fully alive and engaged in this film, as former lovers turn up at inopportune times, external pressures threaten to force the lovers apart, and walking casts and neck braces come to play a part. "Love is a mess," as one character aptly puts it, but it has a way of braving even the most dire aspects of our imperfect world.

"Kiss Me Kosher" opens in theaters April 12.

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

Read These Next