Most of the main characters are Georgian-Israeli and the dialogue is partly in the Judaeo-Georgian language and partly in Hebrew.
The film was positively reviewed and was Israel's submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the 74th Academy Awards.
Zaza (Lior Ashkenazi) is a 31-year-old Georgian-Israeli PhD student at Tel Aviv University whose family is trying to arrange a marriage for him within the Georgian community. The film's beginning sees Zaza and his parents Yasha and Lili visiting the home of a possible match, who is still in high school. Zaza is clearly unenthusiastic and it is mentioned that he has seen dozens of prospective brides before this.
After dropping his parents off at their apartment building, Zaza drives to a pay phone and calls his girlfriend Judith (Ronit Elkabetz), a 34-year-old Moroccan-Israeli divorcée who he is dating without his parents' knowledge. After Judith's daughter Madona has gone to bed (Judith is unsuccessfully attempting to conceal the relationship from her), Zaza goes to her apartment and they have sex, in an explicit, naturalistic sequence.
Meanwhile, Zaza's parents find that they have left their housekey in Zaza's car and spend the night at the home of relatives Simon and Margalit. When Zaza doesn't answer repeated phone calls during the night, Yasha concludes that he is with Judith; apparently Yasha was aware of the relationship but Zaza had promised him that he would end it. Judith is unacceptable to Zaza's parents because she is divorced, has a child, and is older than Zaza. A number of Zaza's relatives stake out Judith's apartment building, planning to confront the couple and frighten Judith into leaving Zaza.
The next time Zaza visits Judith they do just this, barging into Judith's apartment and attempting to break up the relationship through polite argument, humiliation, and threats of violence, as Madona (who Judith has finally introduced to Zaza) watches, frightened. At one point Simon takes down a decorative sword hanging on Judith's wall and holds it to her throat. Zaza and Judith say little, and eventually Zaza unconvincingly tells Judith that the relationship is over and leaves with his family. Zaza returns shortly after and attempts to resume the evening where it left off, but Judith quietly tells him that she doesn't want to see him again. Back at his apartment, Zaza has a further confrontation with his parents.
Some time later Zaza's parents return to Judith's apartment building. When Judith comes home, Lili approaches her and gives Madona a teddy bear as a peace offering, while Yasha stays in the car. Inside the apartment, Lili asks Judith if she has seen Zaza. Judith initially says that she hasn't, but soon she tearfully admits that Zaza has been calling her and begging her to marry him. Judith has refused because Zaza's reaction when his family invaded her apartment made her realize that "he loves you more than me," and she has decided the relationship is bad for all concerned. Back in the car, Yasha asks Lili if she will accept Judith as a wife for Zaza. Lili, now more sympathetic toward Judith, tells him that they should wait and see if Zaza gets over her.
The next scene opens with Zaza and Yasha standing next to each other at urinals in a public restroom. It becomes clear that they are at Zaza's wedding reception, and Zaza is drunk. Zaza returns to the reception hall and gives a long, awkward, repetitive speech, while his new wife—who is not Judith—stands uncomfortably by his side. Eventually he tells the guests that he "has a woman on the side more beautiful than my wife," and drags Simon onstage to ask him to confirm this. Simon acts by bringing Zaza's mother on stage as Zaza's other woman, relieving the tension, and Zaza and Lili embrace. Is this reference a Georgian wedding tradition too? Clearly for Zaza there are/have been two "other women", but the interview with Kosashvili quoted below, ends with him saying "[Zaza] knows that [Judith]'s not the right woman for him". The film ends with Zaza and his bride dancing with the rest of his family, but for many viewers the question of who is the right woman has been less clear.Lior Ashkenazi as Zaza
Ronit Elkabetz as Judith
Moni Moshonov as Yasha
Lili Kosashvili as Lili
Aya Steinovitz as Ilana
Rosina Kambus as Magouly
Simon Chen as Simon
Sapir Kugman as Madona
Dina Doron as Luba
Leonid Kanevsky as Otary
Livia Chachmon Ayaliy as Margalit
Eli Turi as Bessik
Maria Ovanov as Lali
Lili Kosashvili, who plays Zaza's mother Lili, is the director's mother.
The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival.
Late Marriage was positively received by critics. Metacritic, which calculates a score from zero to 100 from a film's reviews, gave it a score of 82, translating to "Universal acclaim." Late Marriage was placed at 88 on Slant Magazine's best films of the 2000s.Won the Ophir Award for "Best Film" in 2001
The film was Israel's submission for the 74th Academy Award for Best Foreign Film (it was not nominated).