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Holy Rollers is a unique and gritty departure from the redundant drug dramas that Hollywood has been spewing for nearly fifty years. Based on true events, the film tells the story of 20-year-old Sam Gold, played by Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland), who becomes doubtful of his Jewish family’s direction and finds understanding in the drug-smuggling older brother of his best friend living next door.
The unnatural balance of strong Jewish tradition in late 90’s Brooklyn, Sam’s battles with being let down by his faith and the drug scene in Amsterdam gives Holy Rollers a captivating perspective. The idea of using Hasidic Jews to smuggle drugs into America, not to mention honorable virgin Hasidic Jews, is one of those “you couldn’t make this up” storylines that keeps you fascinated.
Eisenberg continues to rise playing a young man, being pushed into being a Rabbi, who is fed up with his father’s attitude towards life and money. Moreover, the parents of the girl he dreams of marrying, and is even arranged to marry, back out and leave him heartbroken. Eisenberg has constantly played this anguished teen that never gets the girl that hides his disappointment in awkward smiles and quick jokes. This is finally a role where instead of the jokes, he gives you pain and it gives the film its depth.
A solid supporting cast and well-chosen locations gives Holy Rollers a finishing touch. It’s a well-directed film that made me feel, for the first time, that a movie set in the late 90’s was a period piece. At times it did feel as though it was missing a few edits and shots here and there, maybe missing a close up or changing an angle, but I could easily have seen an unfinished product.
Holy Rollers is an indie film, no glitz or glamour, with serviceable dialogue and great delivery, that tells a unique and interesting story that you need to hear more of. It doesn’t try and give viewers perfect moments but instead gives the perfect moments for the characters. It was kept honest and uncompromising, another characteristic lacking in the latest Hollywood spew.
Nathan Baker-Lutz Nathan is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Film and Video, including a concentration in Screenwriting. He has been writing for Film Monthly for 2 years.
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