[UPDATED:] Meet the Director of the Best Hasdic Jew Pill Pusher Movie Out There
|Yosef (Justin Bartha, left) eases Sam (Jesse Eisenberg) into drug trafficking in Holy Rollers.|
|Director Kevin Asch on the set of Holy Rollers.|
By the time Sam discovers what he's into, he's ventured too far away from the life set out by his rabbi, as well as his overbearing father (Mark Ivanir)--and the lad's drawn too close to thrills supplied by the wisecracking Yosef, their Israeli drug dealer boss Jackie Solomon (Danny A. Abeckaser) and especially Jackie's lost girlfriend Rachel (Ari Graynor).
Eventually spurned by his family, missing his faith and confronted with the danger of the drug underworld, Sam must choose which life to throw away.
Eisenberg delivers another outstanding performance, further solidifying his rep as the dramatic answer to his comedic geek god counterpart, Michael Cera.
However, the real surprise here is Bartha, who as an Orthodox Jew gone bad is much looser in his skin than the missing-groom stiff he played The Hangover.
Abeckaser, who until now has had mostly bit parts in films like You Don't Mess With the Zohan, The Education of Charlie Banks and Alpha Dog, is also a find, seething with a combination of magnetism and menace like the best movie drug kingpins.
Also one of the film's producers, Abeckaser got the idea for the film after seeing a news report about an Israeli drug dealer who used Hasidic Jews as couriers to smuggle ecstasy from Europe to the U.S. in the late 1990s. (Antonio Macia wrote the screenplay.)
Following Hasidic Jew mules is an original take for a movie on international drug smuggling. But the biggest problem I had with Holy Rollers was how unoriginal it ultimately was. Sheltered young men enticed by the exciting drug underworld has been played countless times before. What happens to Sam we've already seen happen on the big screen, it's just this guy has curly sideburns.
However, there are worse ways to spend 89 minutes, and the filmmaker will be on hand to tell you how full of chara criticism like mine is. You must attend the screening to take part in the Q&A with Asch, and advanced tickets are recommended for Saturday night's show.
Holy Rollers actually opens Friday in the moviehouse across from UCI in the University Town Center, 4245 Campus Drive, Irvine.