As a point of full disclosure, I’m Jewish, so it’s likely that I found Wolkenbruch’s Wondrous Journey Into the Arms of a Shiksa (Wolkenbruchs wunderliche Reise in die Arme einer Schickse) more amusing than non-Jewish viewers might. As outrageous as some of the characters may appear, I’ve known people just like them.
Mordecai “Motti” Wolkenbruch (Joel Basman) is the youngest son in an Orthodox Jewish family. He helps his father with his insurance business; he helps his mother collect goods for her thrift store; and he is a university student majoring in economics because that will help his family. His mother, Judith, (Inge Maux) is an over-the top domineering mom. Her goal is to find a wife for Motti. She does this by arranging shidduchs. A shidduch is a meeting set up by a boy’s mother and a girl’s mother. Evidently, Judith has had great success doing this for Motti’s older brothers, all of whom needed only one shidduch to find a suitable mate. Motti, however, is hard to please. He’s up to his tenth shidduch. On one such encounter, he meets Michal (Lena Kalisch) who is on her eighth shidduch. They’re not attracted to each other, but they make a secret pact to pretend to be so that their respective mothers will leave them alone for a while.
Meanwhile, at school, Motti has fallen for a fellow student, Laura (Noémie Schmidt). Laura is definitely not Jewish. She’s a shiksa, a non-Jewish girl. She likes him too, finding his culture exotic and his shyness charming. As Motti’s friend Yossi warns him, “Better to start smoking than having coffee with shiksas. It’s healthier.”
When Motti’s mother finds out, she and her husband bring Motti to a rabbi, who recommends that Motti visit Israel and maybe find a girl to his liking there. He does find a girl to his liking, Jael, but she is not the kind of Jewish girl Judith had in mind. Jael wants uninhibited recreational sex with no attachments. Motti loses his virginity, but Judith is horrified. And Motti still wants Laura.
There are a couple more characters of interest. Motti’s father, Moishe (Udo Samel) doesn’t get in the way of his wife’s manipulations, but he is secretly sympathetic to Motti. And one of the family insurance clients, is a rich widow, Frau Silberzweig (Sunnyi Melles), who is dying of lung cancer, but uses Tarot cards to help Motti find himself.
The film is quite Jewish, but just as many non-Greeks appreciated My Big Fat Greek Wedding, it’s possible that shiksas and shkotzim (non-Jewish boys) might enjoy Wolkenbruch’s Wondrous Journey Into the Arms of a Shiksa.
For the record, in some countries the film is known as The Awakening of Motti Wolkenbruch.