A 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), in order to be allowed to remain in the community. And that’s just the beginning of her peculiar adventures…
Holy Matrimony’s narrative is not one that inspires a lot of thought or analysis. It is its originality, mixed with just the right dose of quirkiness, that 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 in order 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.
When it comes to the Coming-of-Age values integrated into the plot, one must be aware that the role of 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 for the reassurance 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.
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.