Indie feature For The Love Of Money is an ambitious attempt to bring a personal story to the screen. It is extremely well shot, well directed, well acted, and if those were the only aspects of a film that mattered, this would be an amazing film. The real hurdle here is the story itself. And while the story is very good, it’s just a bit too episodic.
Very fine actress Jenna Mattison is credited with having written and co-produced the film. She does an admirable job, and the characters and dialogue ring true. It’s more that there are a large number of characters to follow and the episodes just a bit too short, so by the time we are just getting the feel of one story, we are whisked away to another. This is where television shows its strength – when episodes are shown in small doses, such as hour-long television, it becomes easier to put the pieces together. When the episodes are combined into a film, often the length of the film does not allow enough time for the episodes to register with the audience. And remembering all the various elements leading up to a moment can get lost in the shuffle.
Director Ellie Kanner-Zuckerman does a great job with a very large array of locations and actors. While I’m sure many of the establishing shots may have been stock footage, the director – and editors Eric Strand and Karl T. Hirsch – are to be appropriately commended for assembling a massive amount of footage into a strong, cohesive film. and some of the talent gathered here prove once again how competent and capable they are; Jeffrey Tambor, Steven Bauer, Oded Fehr, James Caan, Paul Sorvino, Edward Furlong are among the recognizable names. Among the younger and less recognizable are some talented individuals; Yuda Levi, Delphine Chaneac, Joshua Biton, Jonathan Lipnicki and Richard Gunn. All of the performers do a fantastic job with their parts and help to make the episodic segments work. The biggest complaint this viewer has is in wanting time to get to know some of these characters better, to be given the opportunity to feel more for their individual stories.
For The Love Of Money scans over two decades and follows the purportedly true account of an Israeli immigrant searching for his place in the American landscape. The story begins in 1973, when a young Izek is raised in a seedy, gangster-filled casino that operators behind the family bar. Over the next few decades we watch as he or his family become more involved in the criminal underworld which pervades his community. When he gains the opportunity to escape to the United States and the dream of starting over beckons as a new hope, the sins of his past prove they will not be ignored.
Writer Mattison and director Kanner-Zuckerman utilize a voiceover at various times in the film and, to some extent, it helps the viewer to follow Izek’s arc. The use of known music from the various eras helps to follow the chronology. In spite of the episodic nature of the story, For The Love Of Money is an engaging and intriguing glimpse into an aspect of a culture rarely seen in this country, and should prove enjoyable for anyone who loves a good indie feature.