The age old question of how to find Mr. Right is the basis of the film “Arranged” by Stefan Schaefer, Diane Crespo, and Yuta Silverman. What makes this film different than all of the other romantic comedies or dramas that explore this theme is the unconventional two central characters in the film – an orthodox Jewish woman and a devoted Muslim woman from Syria. The filmmakers take a bold leap by exploring this common theme within two traditional cultures that are rarely depicted on film together.
In “Arranged” the filmmakers parallel the matchmaking traditions of the orthodox Jewish community with the family traditions of the devoted Muslim community by focusing on the friendship of Rochel Meshenberg and Nasira Khaldi. Both women are first year teachers who find out that they have a lot in common despite their different cultures and religious beliefs. Rochel’s parents get her a shadchen (matchmaker) in order to set her up on dates with prospective husbands. Nasira’s father arranges for potential husbands to come over to their house for dinner or coffee with the entire family. The ups and downs of both traditional methods are depicted as both women learn to respect each other and value their new friendship with each other.
The viewer gains insight into bother traditional cultures and customs and how similar all humans really are despite what people look like or follow. Viewers will be entertained and enlightened with the film despite some unrealistic settings and depictions (principal and staff conferences). Schaefer, Crespo, and Silverman should be commended on their effort to try to create a film that emphasizes tolerance of all people as well as the value of traditions in our modern world.