The term 'independent movie' doesn't mean anything at this point really, and is certainly not a particular genre. Most of…
In 1998, 1 million ecstasy pills were smuggled into the USA by a group of Hasidic Jews.
Inspired by actual events in the late nineties when Hasidic Jews were recruited as mules to smuggle ecstasy from Europe into the United States.
For a while I pretty much thought Jessie Eisenberg was who they get when Michael Serra isn't available. Zombieland pretty much set me straight on that and following it with The Social Network clarified everything. Now I'm enough of a fan to want to get around to all of his movies. So I picked up Holy Rollers.
But the extent to which this movie is true (there were some hasidic mules) is outpaced only by the extent to which the changed story is totally uninteresting.
Really make your mind up with what sort of film you want to be, are you a drama? Are you a crime film? Are you just mediocre?
If the idea of Orthodox Jews as drug mules sounds bizarre and stranger than fiction ... you'd be wrong. Holy Rollers is based upon a true story in 1998 that employed these very people to smuggle "a million" ecstasy tablets into the country from Europe over a short period of time.
The story stars Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) as Sam Gold who mistakenly (?) gets caught up in the "medicine" smuggling at the bequest of his older neighbor played by Justin Bartha (National Treasure).
Soon, Sam realizes what he is doing; but the money proves to be too good to pass up and he eventually recruits even more of his fellow Orthodox Jews to smuggle the drugs into NYC…
Quite a good little movie about a little known backwater of the drug trade. Fine performances all around as Jesse Eisenberg's character loses his way in perfectly understandable steps.
That old story -- we've all heard it -- of the Hasidic Jew who gets recruited as an ecstasy smuggler: right, I know, tired old premise, but it's made into a decently tense, nicely wound-up little film here. Jesse Eisenberg as uptight naïf isn't a novel character, but the larger worldview is neat enough.
Sam Gold is a mild-mannered Orthodox Jew in Brooklyn. Leon (Jason Fuchs) is Sam's best friend, whose brother Yosef (Justin Bartha) introduces the pair of them to easy money, transporting briefcases full of "medicine." Leon, freaked out when he discovers what the medicine is, bows out early, but Sam sticks it out for a whole lavish career.
What follows is a hit-or-miss BLOW-like story of drug running and redemption, often with stale melodrama but with enough unexpected moments to mostly make it all worth it.
In a six-month period between 1998 and 1999 one million ecstasy tablets were smuggled into the USA by a small group of Hasidic Jews. Holy Rollers tells the fictional story of one of them.
Sam Gold (Eisenberg) is a young Hasidic Jew who is finding it difficult to decide whether to join his father in the family business or train to become a rabbi. After an arranged marriage falls through, he catches the attention of next door neighbour Josef (Bartha) who tells him about a lucrative job he has in the medical industry. Along with friend (and Josef’s brother) Leon(Fuchs), Sam travels to Europe to bring back ‘medicine for rich people’. On return they find out that they are trafficking…
Pretty mediocre despite a promising performance from Jessie Eisenberg.
This film really just muddles around and has no sense of being or what it actually is. It has no idea if it wants to focus more on family, crime drama, religious culture and so it just merges these all together and hope it turns out okay. And it really doesn't succeed. It has decent moments but ultimately it's just "there". I went into this wanting to see a couple of favorite actors of mine, Eisenberg and Bartha. And while they each do suitable jobs, there's nothing noteworthy about their performances or their roles. I think there might be a small audience that would be very interested in this, but it's really something that should be passed on.
HOLY ROLLERS sounded like a cool story. The Hasidic culture is very interesting to me and it’s one that doesn’t get a lot of exposure in film, or really any media.
Jesse Eisenberg was almost too obvious a choice to play the lead role of Sam. But of course, he delivers. His is a really well-performed arc from start to finish. Justin Bartha’s turn as the friend that gets Sam involved with the E cartel is much more straightforward. He doesn’t really change much, if any, but he’s good all the same. It was a different side of him than I’d seen before, so at least we know he’s not totally one-note.
And hey lookitthat! The little Pepsi girl…
A pretty poor documentary that doesn't even understand what's interesting about its own content — a group of card counting, blackjack playing Christians. A better exploration of either one aspect or the other would have been superior, but instead it went for middle of the road hodge-podge.
Based on the true story of some young Hasidic Jews turned drug couriers in late 90s NYC, HOLY ROLLERS is an oddity. A moderately successful film it holds extra novelty interest for me due to my utter lack of familiarity with Jewish culture. Worth a watch if not unmissable.
- American Heart
- A Woman Under the Influence
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- Animal Factory
- Being John Malkovich
- Burke & Hare
- A Good Day to Die Hard
- Gentlemen Broncos
- Ghost Rider
A list of 20 absolutely turgid films from within the last 10 years.
- Ruby Sparks
- The Stranger
- Holy Rollers
- Brighton Rock
Proposed by CineBro and most likely to ruin my life for the next month.
Brief reviews are located in the…