Friday, January 16, 2009


I've just finished watching "Arranged", an indie film based on a true story about the cross-cultural friendship of two young schoolteachers, one an orthodox Jewish woman and a Muslim woman as they go through their families' efforts to arrange marriages for them. I haven't laughed or cried this much in a long time over a movie. See it, if you liked "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", but it is much more realistic and subtle.

Before watching, I had been reading a book of essays about Christian womanhood compiled by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, "Becoming God's True Woman". It seemed to heighten my awareness of the tension in "Arranged" that both young women feel between the permissive and dismissive culture they live in and the traditional values they learned from their families, as well as their yearning to follow God's will but not lose their own in situations they can't control.

Nasira and Rachel, the movie's protagonists, are moving unevenly through a rough transition between living with their families as singles and into their futures as married women. Rachel is pushed beyond her limits with her mother's attempts with a matchmaker in setting up blind dates with prospects "who have jobs and come from good families". I loved it when her mother wisely decides to quit trying to control her daughter and start protecting her instead, especially against an attitude towards the matchmaker that her daughter wasn't worth the effort to find a better man than the ones she was introduced to. Her mother senses that Rachel is on the brink of defying everything she has been taught and has made her who she is.

Nasira is dealing with a father who is doing the matchmaking for her (who would you rather have--a marriage broker who is an old lady or your dad?) and ships a suitor, paunchy, balding, ultra-conservative and twenty years older, all the way from the "old country". He finally sends him back after telling his daughter that he didn't want to make a fight with her and her mother, but wishes that she would trust him to make her happy. She decides to trust him, although tearfully. Finally, there is a happy result for Nasira, who while showing to Rachel the acceptable young man on her cell phone, jokes "...and he has teeth!" Nasira, in love and full of hope, wishes her miserable friend the same happiness she has found.

I loved this movie for several reasons, but this is as far as I will go because I want you to watch the movie without telling you everything!

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