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Review: A Matter of Size

For an audience with an overt appreciation of food and drink, the UK Jewish Film Festival's opening gala film had a certain frisson.

Dirs. Sharon Maymon and Erez Tadmor | Israel | 2009 | 90 mins | Hebrew with English subtitles

    For an audience with a ... shall we say, overt appreciation of food and drink, the UK Jewish Film Festival's opening gala film, A Matter of Size, had a certain frisson.

    This gentle Israeli comedy is the story of the doleful Herzl, fat since childhood and desperately putting himself through an endless series of dietary hoops in the grim working-class Israeli town of Ramle.

    Poor Herzl is put upon by women; his hissing mother, forever attacking him for being even fatter than his late father; and the convenor of his weight-loss club, the vile Geula, snake-thin and with a talent for abusing her aspirant dieters. Even Herzl's boss wants to put him in the back of the kitchen because he doesn't think Herzl has quite the right kind of presence to be front-of-house. Too fat puts off the customers.

    Suddenly Herzl has an epiphany after landing a job at a Japanese restaurant. He's had enough of always being on a diet, always being shouted at and abused. He is going to make his fat work for him: he is going to become a sumo wrestler.

    There have been unlikelier scenes in Israel than four hugely overweight men running barefoot down a highway wearing only the hallmark red sumo loincloth, but I daresay few funnier.

    There is, of course, a happy ending, and Herzl even finds love. What can I say? Eat first.

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