Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


Holy Rollers

Holy Rollers
Starring:
Jessie Elsenberg, Justin Bartha, Danny Abeckaser and Ari Graynor


Rated: R 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: May 21, 2010 Released by: First Independent

In Holy Rollers, a Brooklyn youth from an Orthodox Jewish community is drawn into dealing Ecstasy.

Some may see Kevin Asch's unsensationalized crime drama as a little of Doug Liman's Go by way of The Coen Bros. A Serious Man. But, hardly as seductive and cohesive as those more intricate roundelays.

Jessie Eisenberg is Sam, the devout young man swayed by a friend's brother (Justin Bartha of The Hangover).

Once introduced to an umbrageous Israeli (Danny A. Abeckaser) who has ties to a drug cartel in his native land, Sam becomes a mule who is well paid for pushing "medicine" back from Amsterdam in his carry-on.

The ironically uneventful, routine storytelling has Sam becoming a pariah, not just from his family, but many others of the Hasidic faithful. Sam rises in this unlikely, very profitable smuggling scheme, based on actual events around 1998 thwarted after over one million pills were moved. But, it all is depicted in a rather unpersuasive way that doesn't allow for Eisenberg to make his troubled naif in Sam a vital, sympathetic lead.

He does have some palatable interplay with his co-stars, including a decent Bartha (way different here than in National Treasure), as well as the boss's paramour, an alluring Ari Graynor of Date Night and Youth In Revolt.

Perhaps this low-budgeter wasn't the right choice for Eisenberg who has displayed dramatic chops in The Squid and the Whale and comedic ones in the recent Zombieland. Evidently, the material in Holy Rollers isn't inspired enough to hardly bring dynamism to a rarer criminal underbelly in Brooklyn.

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