Review: Holy Rollers

Orthodox Jews being used to smuggle drugs sounds like the plot of a comedy, but Holy Rollers is a drama based on a true story as in the late 1980s a resourceful New York gangster came up with the idea that they would be perfect mules to ferry Ecstasy pills from Amsterdam.

Kevin Asch's drama headlines Jesse Eisenberg in a very different guise to his Oscar-nominated role in The Social Network. Sam Gold (Jesse Eisenberg) is a Hasid living in one of Brooklyn's Orthodox Jewish enclaves.

He is determined to make his parents proud, agreeing to an arranged marriage and studying to become a Rabbi. Yet Sam craves excitement in his life and he falls for the charm of neighbour Yosef Zimmerman (Justin Bartha), who suggests that Sam might want to act as a courier for some so-called medicine for Israeli dealer Jackie (Danny A Abeckaser).

As Sam is seduced by the bright lights and intoxication of the nightlife in Manhattan and Europe, he also begins to dabble with narcotics and falls under the spell of Jackie's girlfriend Rachel (Ari Graynor).

However, Sam cannot hide his smuggling from his parents for long and when they become suspicious, he must choose between an easy life on the right side of the law or the thrill of breaking the law with Jackie and his business associates.

In truth this wasn't one of the great criminal enterprises but it makes for a fairly engaging tale.

Holy Rollers featured in last year's London's Jewish Film Festival and to be honest it's a little bit of a surprise to see it get a cinema release.

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That it has is due to its inappropriately strong cast. Justin Bartha is fresh from The Hangovers I & II and The Rebound while after Zombieland, The Social Network and Rio, Jesse Eisenberg has achieved an improbable stardom.

His part here isn't nearly as strong as in the aforementioned films but he's just as good. He never seems to be doing much beyond his basic nerdy schtick but he always comes up with something to hold your attention and draws you in.


Director: Kevin Asch

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Bartha, Danny A. Abeckaser, Ari Graynor, Q-Tip.

Length: 89 mins