This would’ve turned out brilliantly if the writer wouldn’t have taken the easier way out.
Plot: In Brooklyn, a youth from an Orthodox Jewish community is lured into becoming an Ecstasy dealer by his pal who has ties to an Israeli drug cartel.
This movie is actually partly based upon a true story that happened sometime during the late 90’s; Hasidic Jews were recruited by a group of drug dealers to act as mules to easily be able to smuggle ecstasy from Europe to the United States.
Jesse Eisenberg gives an exceptional performance as main character Sam Gold, a young man studying to become a Rabbi who gets mixed up into the lucrative ecstasy trade by his best friend’s brother. It was an excellent role for him, and being one of my favorite actors I had to see this movie. And I’m glad I did, if the plot doesn’t intrigue you enough see this movie for his wonderful performance. He not only looks the part, but makes the character his own and turns it into a real person so to speak. Justin Bartha was also very good as Josef, the brother of Sam’s best friend Leon who gets the two of them wrapped up in drug dealing. He too gives an incredibly realistic performance, and is, along with Jesse, the highlight of this film.
Now for the writing. The screenplay was an original piece written by newcomer Antonio Macia, and was equally well written and equally shoddy in the same measure. The story was well developed, nice dialogue, but was extremely slowly paced at the beginning. By the time the movie fully caught up with itself it was nearly halfway over. Another thing about this that could’ve been improved was the running-time; 89-minutes is hardly enough time to fully develop a story. The short running time works pretty well here, but I still feel it could’ve used an extra 10-20 minutes. The characterizations of some of the characters, however, were a bit ridiculous and the writer turned a few of them into walking cliches.
The direction was done by another newcomer, by the name of Kevin Asch. For his first film, he really develops a nice stylish take on the modern biographical crime drama, and expertly directs his actors. And I loved the composed score from MJ Mynarski, very well composed and fitting!
In conclusion, “Holy Rollers” is certainly not the movie it could have been, but I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome; the result was a tense, well acted, and expertly directed modern crime film that is certainly beyond underrated. I can’t give it the highest recommendation, but it is very very very much worth checking out at least once.
My Rating: 7.5/10
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