A Matter of Size is a slim tale about four hefty men who find self esteem through Sumo wrestling. The Israeli film is a crowd pleaser that first played here when it was the opening movie for last year's Toronto Jewish film festival.
Herzl is a plus-size salad chef who lives with his mom and suffers through regular meetings with a weight-loss club. Trouble is, Herzl (Itzik Cohen) is actually gaining weight, and the shrew who runs the program wants to kick him out. At home, Herzl's mom nags him all the time about what he eats and reminds him that his fat father died young.
At work, Herzl is asked to return to kitchen work because his girth has prompted complaints from customers. The guy is at the end of his rope.
Finding a dishwasher job at a Japanese restaurant is the beginning of a change in Herzl's luck. His co-workers introduce him to Sumo wrestling, a sport in which big is good, and Herzl soon involves three large buddies in a Sumo training program. They get the help of Kitano, the restaurant owner; he's a former Sumo trainer.
Along the way, the men find themselves, regain their zest for life and one or two even find love. Herzl falls for a woman in his weight-watcher class (Irit Kaplan) and escapes the terrible tyranny of his mother. All the characters learn to love themselves and stop trying to conform to other people's ideas of who and what they are.
The humour in A Matter of Size is somewhat puerile, but the film does cover important social issues in its own gentle way. The characters are struggling with far more than body image; the men face their anger, commitment phobias, orientation and jealousy.
Whether the film accurately reflects the intense prejudice against overweight people is a matter of opinion, but the only real villain in the story is Geula (Evelin Hagoel), the cruel woman who runs the weight clinic.
Her hysterical advice to the chubby woman Herzl loves -- that getting pregnant would be worse than the plague, because of the weight she'd gain -- is a truly scary moment.
A Matter of Size has played film festivals around the world and won a handful of audience awards. The movie is in Hebrew and Japanese with English subtitles. In Toronto, A Matter of Size is playing at the Cineplex Odeon Sheppard.
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