Pin It
Favorite

Holy Rollers 

If you're trying to make a Jewish movie, you've gotta do more than include the costumes.

click to enlarge art15724.jpg

The public has a fetish for hypocrites. When a celebrity loses her cultural crown, when a self-righteous minister acts contrary to his beliefs, we’re giddy with schadenfreude. We love it when other people fail to live up to their own moral standards.

Though Hasidic Jews don’t have the same cultural cachet as the Amish, their insularity and rigid adherence to a moral code make them just as juicy a target for corruption. In the first five minutes of Holy Rollers, somebody gives us an “oy, vey,” we find out it’s Hanukkah, and we see very clearly that the main character, Sam Gold (Jesse Eisenberg), is concerned with gelt above all else.

Gold, unsatisfied with working for his father in New York’s Garment District, is recruited by an old friend who’s fallen away from Hasidism to smuggle “medicine” from Europe. Gold is naive enough to believe that story at first, but once the truth comes out (they’re smuggling Ecstasy), he’s making too much money to care.

The film does not fall into a lazy “Jews like money” stereotype — in fact, all along the way, Gold is told by his father, his rabbi and his best friend that money is not some magical shortcut to winning at life. The sentiment is welcome, but it doesn’t help the movie get past using Hasidic belief as window dressing.

“Relax, mind your business … and act Jewish” is what Gold is told on that first trip. You see, the pious nature and strange customs of the Hasidim attract less suspicion: if a man’s face is framed by peyot braids, how could he possibly be trafficking in drugs? But that’s the problem: the only way this movie is even remotely about Hasidic Jews is the costumes — which is why Holy Rollers feels more than a little Jewsploitational.

Holy Rollers is a good story, but it loses the point somewhere along the line. The background — the setup, the reason why these characters do what they do — is faded out in favor of the far sexier descent into depravity. Oy, gevalt! Ideas for good trailers don’t necessarily make good movies. (Rated R)

Tags:

  • Pin It

Latest in Film

  • The Bad Kids
  • The Bad Kids

    Envision a world where timeout is permanent in Mommy
    • Mar 4, 2015
  • Robot Rock
  • Robot Rock

    Tired of aliens, Neill Blomkamp tries his hand with robots in Chappie
    • Mar 4, 2015
  • Seashell Secrets
  • Seashell Secrets

    Song of the Sea is a beautiful story of siblings struggling to cope and understand each other
    • Feb 25, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu
Northwest Bach Festival Finale

Northwest Bach Festival Finale @ St. John's Cathedral

Sun., March 8, 3 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

or

More by Dan Herman

  • Bob's Burgers
  • Bob's Burgers

    A new animated feature that's still impossible to describe in a sentence.
    • Jan 5, 2011
  • Waking Sleeping Beauty
  • Waking Sleeping Beauty

    The death and rebirth of Disney animation
    • Dec 29, 2010
  • Boardwalk Empire
  • Boardwalk Empire

    Like Mad Men, only 40 years earlier and less fixated on the props.
    • Dec 1, 2010
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Dark Into Light

    Call of the Void melds brutal metal and murky beauty
    • Feb 18, 2015
  • The Contenders

    A look at this year's Oscar field
    • Feb 18, 2015
  • More »

Top Tags in
Music & Film

Music


Film


Folk


Hip-hop


Indie Rock


© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation