Holy Rollers

mila: I’m trying to figure out if I should say all the bad things first, last or in the middle. I guess since I’ve put it out there I’ll just get it out now. Honestly, there wasn’t much story or character wise that I didn’t like, it was just the camera work mainly… Mostly it’s just the out of focus portion of the film. I have learned to withstand hand-held especially if it matters to the value of the production, I understand art and I get that it can be an important storytelling feature but when things are fuzzy and out of focus coupled with hand-held then I just don’t get it. But all in all, that really doesn’t matter because what I’ve learned is that your production value can be absolutely the most lo-fi thing ever made but if the story is good then that’s all that matters. And this is a case where that is quite true. I was immediately captivated by the culture and setting of the film- Haisidic Jews in Brooklyn in 1998 who get caught up in drug smuggling. It’s a very intriguing storyline and it pretty much holds itself up the entire time- Antonio Macia (writer) did a great job. The beginning was a bit sluggish but when you get to where the pace picks up you realize you needed that look into the slow (maybe mundane) lifestyle of that traditional culture. I was really feeling the cast, Jesse Eisenberg was really great (capable of holding your attention) and watching his character (Sam Gold) transform from total innocence, by the book Haisidic to becoming “of the world” with peyos cut off was heart-string tugging. I’ve never seen Justin Bartha in a role (Yosef) like this, where he isn’t your “good guy” or “know-it-all guy” but instead a man of tradition that fell by the wayside- always either high or drunk throughout the film. Then there’s Jason Fuchs who played Leon, who remains the cornerstone throughout the story- never changing, abiding by his (or His) law(s), the son that every Jewish mother would dream of. I’ve never seen him in anything else but I do know that he did a fantastic job and his relationship and reactions toward the other two characters (his best friend and brother) felt real. Kevin Asch did a wonderful job directing and could really go far. I think that when you can pull off a low budget feature that people are really drawn to then imagine what you could do with a bit more money… Overall, the story was fascinating and something I never knew about (the smuggle of the drug ecstacy into the United States by a very small group of Jews in New York). I think the reason I enjoyed it so much was that it felt like you were getting an insider’s look into a sometimes closed off, elusive culture. I should probably have mentioned earlier that it was an official selection at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

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