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  • For some of us, it's at times an uphill battle with the bulge. Some blame it on lifestyle, others on physiology, while some become resigned to genetics. I suppose it's not only a concern with females going into a fluster when additional weight is gained, but males as well as we wake up one fine day, and discover that our six packs have merged into one singular blob. The choice is clear - do something about it - hitting the gym at least - or continue to indulge in our current lifestyle of choice. For me, the latter is quite evident.

    It's easy to label Israeli movie A Matter of Size as just another "fat movie", where comedy comes naturally from the meanness in poking fun at another's huge waistline. A lot of comedies are guilty of this to the point that they become grossly offensive. This film thankfully shyed away from offending, though it still came with plenty of pot calling the kettle black, at times the characters themselves mirroring some of us, where we utter insensitive comments without a clue on the damage and hurt they will cause.

    Written and directed by Sharon Maymon and Erez Tadmor, the duo had crafted an endearing tale about self-identity, and the challenge to always be comfortable with oneself in mind and body. It's easy to cheer someone on in doing what seems to be natural for us, but one heck of a mountain to climb for the other. For Herzl (Itzik Cohen), being part of a fitness club is sheer torture for his lack of results, and constant ridicule from the trainer, who thinks that it is in her arsenal to insult Herzl into becoming thin again.

    Facing discrimination everywhere, from home and to the workplace, he chances upon Sumo wrestling when he got a job washing dishes at a Japanese restaurant, and realizes that one can still gain respect and admiration despite being fat. He gathers a few close but skeptical friends who share his similarities in girth, and thus begin their journey into sumo training, but what they're about to gain is not just techniques in wrestling, but some important lessons about life itself, where it is always convenient to put the blame when things don't go right onto their physical exteriors, or someone else, yet always failing to look at what's lacking inside, and coming to terms with it.

    There's a little bit of everything in the film, from comedy, to romance, friendship, relationship and the likes, that will keep you engaged throughout. Itzik Cohen is extremely charismatic as he chews up the screen with his presence, and I'm not referring to physical size here. The cast did an admirable job in bringing some realism into their sumo moves (their 3 months training paid off), and carried off their individual arcs convincingly, especially Itzik's counterpart Aharon (Dvir Benedek), who can shuffle between having the meanest mouth amongst the group, and arguably their greatest critic, with his mean streak and prepping the way of being the roadblock to Herzl's chance for success at a tournament.

    Maymon and Tadmor steered clear of having the group's reluctant instructor Mr Kitano (Togo Igawa) as a caricature or a homage to Mr Miyagi with his wax-on-wax-off nonsense. Kitano doesn't spout fortune cookie words of wisdom, or has some trickery move up his sleeve to impart, and despite that tough man demeanour and violent back story, is also capable of an encouraging, funny line or two.

    What I had enjoyed about the film is how it subtly reminds us to be who we are, and not look down upon ourselves just because we are different from the expected norm. In fact it is this uniqueness that we can harness to becoming something special, and so long as we are true to ourselves, success in some way will come, measured by a personal yardstick and not that which is imposed by society. I like this film, and it's highly recommended.

    It's currently sold out for the festival given its great word of mouth from festivals and being nominated for every award in the Israeli equivalent of their Oscars, but fret not as this should soon be coming to a theatre near you as well.
  • Only now I got to see 'A Matter of Size' or 'Big Story' (Sipur Gadol) as the original title in Hebrew goes, a film that surprised both the international and Israeli audiences a couple of years ago. International audiences were surprised as they seem to be any time a film from Israel deals with subjects that are not related to the Israeli-Arab conflict, to war or terrorism or their consequences. There was also however a surprise in this film for the Israeli audiences as well. Those who came to see the routine comedy that this film promised to be taken into account the background where it happens and the actors, were surprised to watch more delicate subjects of personal identity and courage of assuming it being dealt with in a light and spirited manner. The result is not bad, and the mild success that the film enjoyed was in my opinion deserved.

    The heroes of the film all come from the lower class environment of a city which can be described as central in location and peripheral as social status in today's Israel. Herzl (acted by big-eyed Itzik Cohen), his girl-friend Zehava (Irit Kaplan) and his friends all fight an oversize problem, which places them into the class of pariahs in a world obsessed by diets, as their weight places them out of the criteria of aesthetics and social acceptance. To some extent overweight is in the film directed by Sharon Maymon and Erez Tadmor a symbol for all the other inequities of gender, origin or social nature that make people different (which is a normal thing) but can also lead to discrimination (which must be fought). The fight is however not so much with the outer world but merely with the inner personality of the heroes. The physical disadvantage is turned into an opportunity when Herzl and his friends discover that the traditional Japanese sport of sumo can earn them respectability, but as they soon learn sumo is not only about being fat, it is also about proving strength of character and endurance in face of adversity. The tools of personal success or even survival are the same in any context.

    The film does not take itself too much in serious, and this is both a quality – as it stays pleasant to watch and can be enjoyed by practically any audience – but also a weak point, as it cannot avoid some of the expected clichés of the feel-good movies.Taking upon the sport of sumo in a country that is the opposite of Japan from so many points of view is a comedy subject by itself, and there are a few spectacular moments of comedy with the big fat men running in their red sumo panties in the city or on the roads but the authors were so proud of them that they repeated them three times. Besides the lead roles, Dvir Benedek gives a good performance and so does Togo Igawa as sumo master Kitano (a homage name?) who comes to Israel … for Zionist reasons. It's overall a movie that is nice to watch for everybody and with enough substance to make even the more sophisticated viewer unable to be sorry for the time spent watching it.
  • Super cute movie; light plot but with deeper philosophical and political implications for those who seek them. I especially liked the choreographed movements of the group of sumo wrestlers, and the accompanying music. Just for that I would see them movie more than once. Most importantly, it puts Israel and Isarelis into a normal perspective and does the same for the problem of obesity. It puts a new spin on it that will stay with the viewer and will positively affect his/her attitude towards non-mainstream people. The incorporation of Japanese non-Jewish characters into the film is interesting. It creates further food for thought about all kinds of relationships, not only between Jews and Gentiles, but also between men and women, gays and heterosexuals, parents and grown children, prisoners and wardens, and all this, of course, through the main thin/fat dichotomy that dominates the thinking of the main characters.
  • Nagi410 September 2009
    I thought the idea of the film was really nice. Having to find something useful in you and try to find the the good in you.

    The visual aspects of the film became of course interesting when the men are big and dress as sumo wrestlers. The're is some good dialog, which made me laugh, but there was too much of it. Too many scenes and feelings we're explained by dialog.

    Some of the characters we're unrealistic, like the woman who holds the diet club.

    I know it's a matter of style, but never the less, it didn't struck me. The film has gotten some good reviews, so maybe I'm just the wrong person for this movie. Man in his forties, who see's a lot of film.

    There is twist of a romantic comedy in it, which probably makes it a very good dating movie. But for me it was a bit too naive and some of the scenes we're just so simple and looked too much like television.

    The cinematography of the film excels only in a few sumo scenes. Otherwise it's stuff made straight to DVD.
  • Sharon Maymon & Eriz Tadmor's 'A Matter Of Size' is one of those "feel good about yourself" kind of films that sends audiences smiling as they exit the cinema,while giving them something to think about. In this case,it's about body size. Herzl,an morbidly obese Isreali man,is fired from his job working in a restaurant,due to his size,which is making diners uncomfortable. He,and his cadre of equally overweight friends,Aharon,Gidi & Sami,are constantly berated at the weight loss clinic by the coach in charge. When Herzl takes a job at a Japanese restaurant,he sees a Sumo wrestling match on the television in the bar, and decides to form a Sumo club,with his friends. Also figuring into all of this is a romantic interest in the form of Zehava,a pretty,overweight woman who likes Herzl,but doesn't trust men,as she figures all of them as potential liars. Herzl's mother doesn't make matters any better,as she constantly makes weight remarks about her son to his face. Also add to all of this Herzl's boss at the restaurant,Kitano,who fled from Japan (allegedly from the Yakuza)to operate the Sushi restaurant,and becomes the Sumo coach for the team,as well as other sub plot elements to make things interesting. Will Herzl & his team get into shape to become the Sumo club of his dreams,and finally get the respect that he wants (and finds the girl of his dreams)? The cast (mostly known from their work in Isreali television & films)includes Itzik Cohen,as Herzl,Dvir Benedek,as Aharon,Alon Dahon as Gidi,Shmulik Cohen as Sami,Irit Kaplan as Zehava,and Togo Igawa as Kitano,with Yuki Iwamoto,Shawl Azar & Oshri Sahir. Sharon Maymon & Eriz Tadmor co-direct from a screenplay written by Maymon & Danny Cohen-Salal. Your best bet is to try & catch the original Isreali version,as an American re-make is due for release sometime next year (and you all know just how bad American remakes of foreign films can be--and,for the most part,are). Spoken in Hebrew & Japanese with English subtitles. Not rated by the MPAA,this film contains outbursts of strong language,some adult content,including some rather lurid on-line photographs of a gay dating website,down loaded by one of the plus sized men that is just about to come out of the closet.
  • At Budapest Israeli Film Week, Dec. 2016; "A Matter of Size" (Hebrew title, "Sipur Gadol" = 'A BIG Story'), 2009, 90 min., color. This is basically a feel-good love story about two people, Herzl and Zehava, who don't feel very good about themselves because they are exceptionally fat, but eventually find ways of coming to terms with their obesity. This could be called a gimmick film --the gimmick being Jewish Sumo wrestlers in Israel -- a pretty wild idea to start with --but it has so much else going for it that it transcends the gimmickry to become a thoughtful heart-warming picture. What is most unusual is that all the main actors, except for the Hebrew-speaking Japanese Sumo coach -- are actually quite fat and far from glamorous -- but are all very good actors and instantly engage our feelings for them. The oversize hero, Herzl, has a giant complex about his obesity, but in Sumo where fatness is prized, he finds a sense of worth. His girlfriend has her own weight problems and complexes, but through Herzl's unconditional devotion also comes to accept herself as is. Ultimately this is a film about self-acceptance in the face of Massive obstacles --and Sumo happens to be the vehicle to that end. Interestingly, other than the fact that the film takes place in Israel, there is nothing particularly Jewish about it. It could take place anywhere -- anywhere, that happens to have a Sushi restaurant run by a man who happens to be a retired Sumo referee... Gimmick-shmimmick -- a winner with elements of Rocky and Karate Kid deftly tossed together with a healthy helping of schmaltz. Written and directed in tandem by Erez Tadmor and Sharon Maymon --both of whom were present for a lively Q & A after the show. The production values are cutting-edge world class, indicating that Israeli film is no longer a provincial cottage industry for a captive audience, but a growing industry with international outreach. Main cast: Herzl --Itzik Cohen Zehava -- Irit Kaplan BOTTOM LINE: One for The Books