If one were to chart out all the clichéd beats of the coming-of-age story, it’s likely that The Matchmaker would hit every single one of them exactly as expected. But there’s not anything necessarily wrong with sticking to formula, as long as it’s done well. In this film, director Avi Nesher manages to instill some interest in the genre by mixing in elements of The Holocaust. However, stumbles in other aspects of the execution mean that The Matchmaker is alright, but nothing particularly memorable.

The story follows Arik Burstein (Tuval Shafir), a sixteen-year-old living in Haifa, Israel in 1968. Arik finds his summer set on an unusual course by two major upheavals in his life. The first is his hiring by Yankele Bride (Adir Miller) a Holocaust survivor who acts as a matchmaker. The second is the arrival of Tamara (Neta Porat), his best friend’s American-raised cousin, who sets his hormones stirring. Over the months, Arik acts as a “spy-guy” for Yankele, gathering information on people seeking out his matchmaking services, while also grappling with his feelings for Tamara. Thrown into the mix are a lovelorn librarian, a husband-hungry dwarf who runs a movie theater, and Yankele’s love Clara (Maya Dagan), a fellow survivor who spurns his advances.

All of these peripheral characters are the life of the film. They’re funny, sympathetic, and sad in equal measure. The problem is that they’re all more interesting than the main character they orbit. It isn’t a problem with Shafir’s acting; Arik’s simply written as something of a blank. Despite the fact that this is a coming-of-age tale, no real change seems detectable in Arik at the end of the film compared to the beginning. It doesn’t help that his most distinguishable trait is that he’s extraordinarily passive, especially in his relationship with Tamara.

In contrast, Tamara is actually one of the best love interests to come out of a story like this in a while. While the objects of the protagonist’s affections are usually thinly drawn, idealized dream girls, Tamara is vivacious, liberated, and colorful. And she’s colorful in a believable way, not as a made up collection of quirks. She lives as a character outside of what Arik and the audience sees of her. It’s baffling why someone as cool as her is attracted to him.

But the movie’s true star is its namesake, Yankele the matchmaker. Miller plays him as a mix of weary, hard-earned wisdom and gentle empathy. He’s not extraordinarily different from the “mentor” archetype in these kinds of tales, but it helps that he’s fleshed out as a human being, not just an archetype. He is, as another character in the film calls him, a barefoot cobbler: a man helping others find love who can himself find no love. He’s tormented by the terrible things he’s lived through, and he can’t escape his past.

That interplay between the past and present hangs heavily over the movie. The specter of The Holocaust haunts much of the cast. One of Yankele’s main ideas is that everyone needs to learn to “settle” for what works rather than what they imagine is best for them, and it resonates, since most of these people have already had their illusions about life shattered. It’s that lesson that Arik is (in theory, not so much in actual demonstration in the movie) learning here.

The Matchmaker isn’t anything special, but then again, a lot of movies aren’t. It’s warm, funny, and has plenty of characters to get invested in for two hours, even if they may fade from memory not long after. It would be something greater with a better protagonist, but it’s not as if that aspect wrecks the film. Ironically, settling for this in lieu of something greater kind of fits into the aforementioned theme of the movie! But all jokes aside, it’s far from a waste of time.