If you close your eyes and try to muster what it would look like if Black Mirror and The Stepford Wives had a musical child, there’s a high chance it would look something like Marriage Material. The short film by female writer and director Oran Zegman is whimsical and wonderful in mostly anyway you could imagine, except for its damningly realistic representation of a woman’s matrimonial role.
After possibly the most awkward proposal rejection ever, involving love song performed naked behind a guitar, Leah Schwartzmann reluctantly ends up at Yenta Feldman’s Late Blooming Bride Retreat. It is in this strange dystopian facility where she learns how to become the perfect housewife, lover and mate for life. Leah quickly relents to her initial reservations about the process and goes from truly being a 21st century woman to someone who can pour juice and iron at the same time.
Behind the perfectly put together musical numbers, in which lead actress Gwen Hollander showcases a fantastic voice, is well thought out commentary on marriage and love. Zegman slips in witty but pertinent one-liners, “Your looks don’t matter- except they do” is scarily accurate for any woman in the current dating scene.
The training Leah endures, though slightly cliché, makes important points about what it means to be a woman in today’s society and what possibly makes you unsuitable for marriage. Being too picky or too alpha, aka feminist, are still widely accepted reasons why women aren’t getting married, or told the clock is ticking when they’re only 30.
Zegman manages to pack all of this subtext into a wonderfully entertaining piece, which could arguably present itself as a new kind of feminist cinema. Hilarious and unavoidably enjoyable Oran Zegman hits the nail on the head of musical theatre does women’s causes with Marriage Material.