Monday, November 14, 2011

HOLY ROLLERS


Once in a while even movies can dispense with its usual stereotypes and can tell us an old story with a fresh set of characters.  This debut feature from filmmaker Kevin Asche is a drug smuggling story where the baddies are neither African Americans or Italian Mafia but actually Hassidic Jews, and evidently its all based on a true story.

Young Sam Gold is a quiet and devout 20 year old who, when he is not studying to be a rabbi, helps out in his father’s struggling textile shop. Sam’s family are poor and so life is pretty tough and he thinks this will spoil his chances of being able to make a good arranged marriage.  He is therefore easy prey for Yosef his no-good neighbor who effortlessly recruits na├»ve Sam into becoming a drug ‘mule’.

The boy who wouldn’t say no to a goose and is petrified of being left alone with a woman, soon overcomes his shyness and takes to the drug smuggling business a little too quickly.  He also discovers that women and drink aren’t so bad after all too. One minute he thinks he is just helping Yosef out by transporting difficult-to-come-by medicine for rich people, and the next he has becoming an overseer and recruiter of other Hasidims to make his boss’s Ecstasy empire grow.

Even though so much of the storyline is so unconvincing, it is still nevertheless a sweet endearing wee film, thanks mainly to young Jesse Eisenberg who is innocence personified as Sam.  And what is also refreshing is that despite its subject matter the whole movie is quite tame, and apart from one fistfight is totally non-violent. 

To be recommended for anyone who likes a little bit of unrealism with their drugs, and is interested in seeing the poor neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Brooklyn, and also has a penchant for all those Hassidic men wit their big fur trimmed hats and their peyos.


★★★★★★