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Wedding planned, groom to be named later

Writer-director Rama Burshtein takes a novel approach to the marriage-minded romantic comedy genre in “The Wedding Plan” in that she strips out the marriage, the romance and the comedy.

Her unique film is a dense, complex look at one woman’s search for love when her engagement is terminated a month before her wedding — and yet she goes ahead with the planning, confident God will provide her a substitute.

The film hinges on the central performance of Noa Koler as Michal, a woman who at 32 has decided it’s now or never. When her fiance admits he doesn’t love her, she enlists the help of a matchmaker and leans on the support of her friends.

“You can’t get married without a groom!” her mother (Irit Sheleg) protests.

“There will be one,” Michal replies. “I’m 100 percent sure God will find one.”

There are a series of bad first dates, desperate passes at old friends — including a dreamy pop star (Oz Zehavi), but Burshtein — who explored arranged marriage in 2012’s “Fill the Void” — and Koler studiously avoid cliches. Instead, “The Wedding Plan” is a complex rumination on the nature of true love and how it evolves. It is also a film rooted in Orthodox Jewish faith.

You might not agree with Burshtein’s thoughts on love and relationships (or you might), but either way, it is thought-provoking.

And it isn’t preachy. There actually is comedy and romance; it’s just not a movie that panders. Koler has a plain-Jane-yet-attractive magnetism worthy of Nia Vardalos that makes you root for her all the way. In the end, “The Wedding Plan” is very much a crowd-pleaser, but one that feels earned and hard-won.

G. Allen Johnson is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @BRfilmsAllen

The Wedding Plan

Drama. With Noa Koler, Dafi Alferon. Directed by Rama Burshtein. In Hebrew with subtitles. (PG. 110 minutes.)

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