The Best Man’s Wedding

(Jalla! Jalla!, Josef Fares, Scandinavia, 2000)


We often fool ourselves that comedy is universal. In fact, film comedies are usually intensely culture-specific and resist export more than any other popular genre.

However, every now and then in cinema history the flavour of another country’s sense of humour becomes an exotic, eccentric commodity around the world.

Just as the Czech New Wave briefly brought a refreshing sense of drollness to screen comedy in the ’60s, it is presently Scandinavia’s turn for a little attention. The Swedish romantic comedy The Best Man’s Wedding (originally Jalla! Jalla!, Arabic for "come on" or "hurry up") is not in the league of Italian for Beginners (2001), but it does possess a rough charm.

Curiously, both films milk their best laughs from a topic that is currently receiving much attention in the media, male sexual dysfunction. Mans (Torkel Petersson) suffers from impotence, causing exasperation for him and his girlfriend.

Meanwhile Mans’ mate, Roro (Fares Fares), has too many women on his hands. He is nervous about introducing his lover, Lisa (Tuva Novotny), to his Lebanese family – especially after an arranged marriage to Yasmin (Laleh Pourkarim) is set in motion.

Eventually, these storylines tangle. In the meantime, debut feature director Josef Fares enlivens good-natured scenes about bedroom problems and close-knit ethnic communities with handheld, digital camera work and an enjoyably diverse collection of pop songs.

There isn’t much to The Best Man’s Wedding, but it offers another inspiring instance of a romantic comedy that has achieved international success without slavishly aping the glossy Hollywood model.

© Adrian Martin November 2002

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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