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Holy Matrimony (1994)

1994-holy-matrimony-posterA comedy with Coming-of-Age motifs thrown in, Leonard Nimoy‘s 1994 film Holy Matrimony tells the witty story of a beautiful yet manipulative and dishonest Havana (Patricia Arquette), who robs a country fair alongside her boyfriend (ala Bonnie and Clyde).

Pursued by the law, they find a refuge in a strict Hutterite community in rural Canada (similar to Amish to those of you who do not know what a Hutterite is, as I didn’t).

An unfortunate turn of events, leading to the death of Havana’s boyfriend, forces her to marry his 12-year-old brother Ezekiel (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) to be allowed to remain in the community. And that’s just the beginning of her peculiar adventures…

HOLY MATRIMONY, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Patricia Arquette, 1994
HOLY MATRIMONY, Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Patricia Arquette

Holy Matrimony’s narrative does not inspire a lot of thought or analysis. Its originality, mixed with just the right dose of quirkiness, results in an entertaining cinematic experience (of the kind many expect from American productions). More than once, the viewer will have to suspend a sense of disbelief to fully enjoy the film, which doesn’t come as a surprise in a film whose primary objective is to entertain and provide an escape from one’s everyday troubles.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Patricia ArquetteWhen it comes to the Coming-of-Age values integrated into the plot, one must be aware that the young protagonist (Ezekiel) is a supporting one, and we are introduced to him rather late, considering the overall duration of the story. Yet his character is a dynamic one and, by the end of the film, one can truly appreciate the changes it undergoes as the result of his encounters and experiences. Even in a supporting role, the film is as much about him as about Havana.

For the very busy actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt (best known for his portrayal of Snowden, but also for his memorable performances in Hesher, the 2004 masterpiece Mysterious Skin and for his five-year stint as a regular on the popular American sitcom 3rd Rock From the Sun), the role of Ezekiel in Holy Matrimony is similar to Christian Bale‘s portrayal of  Jum-Jum in Mio in the Land of Faraway. Well-known actors know it’s somewhat rewarding to watch them as child actors if only to reassure that some child actors continue onward and have successful careers as adults. But both are also quite charismatic and good looking, and I have yet to meet a person who would object to that quality in an actor – be it of the child or adult variety.

Scene from HOLY MATRIMONY, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Patricia Arquette
Scene from HOLY MATRIMONY, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Patricia Arquette

A charming little film, full of actors speaking with funny (yet rather unconvincing) German accents, Holy Matrimony, is not a film anyone is likely to remember for long after its final credits roll, yet is perfectly capable of being entertaining while it lasts.

Holy Matrimony (1994)
Holy Matrimony is a comedy about the robbing of a country fair and all that happens as a result of it.
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  1. Thanks so much for the recommendation! I hadn’t heard of this film, but the fact that it was directed by Leonard Nimoy (!) and starred Joseph Gordon-Levitt was certainly enough to make me want to watch. And you’re right: it’s a slight but absolutely delightful film thanks to its fine cast (also including the great Armin Mueller-Stahl and John Schuck, whose Malvolio I caught at a Shakespeare festival decades ago!) and quick, skillful direction.


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Holy Matrimony is a comedy about the robbing of a country fair and all that happens as a result of it.

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Holy Matrimony is a comedy about the robbing of a country fair and all that happens as a result of it.Holy Matrimony (1994)