Holy Rollers

Pop quiz: What does a really good drug dealer wear? If he’s smart, he’ll grow his sideburns into Hasidic curls and pass through customs looking so innocent, you’d never think he had 10,000 ecstasy tablets sewn into his shtreimel. Jesse Eisenberg stars in this true-enough biopic about a clan of devout Hasids drawn into one of the largest club drug smuggling rings in North America. Antonio Macia’s script knows that it’s funny when an Orthodox Jew panics when a blonde (Ari Graynor, ripe like a forbidden apple) gropes him at a club. But instead of a comedy, he and director Kevin Asch keep their story oddly sincere. Eisenberg is such a solid, serious young actor that the film plays as social problem drama. He’s committed to his religion, his family and his rabbi, so much that he’s even marrying a girl he’s not allowed to speak to. In their first arranged meeting, she insists on eight kids, causing Eisenberg to take a second job drug dealing to be a good provider. He’s always been the prodigal son’s brother, you know, the one who tries to do right by the family fabric business and still gets bupkis. And now, his grasp on his judgmental family and the life they—and he—always wanted for him loosens as they push him away. We’d rather laugh than sigh, but Asch is set on schooling us not to repeat Eisenberg’s mistakes. In a world of black and whites, Eisenberg’s become dangerously gray. But this film needs more color.

Click here for Holy Rollers in the IE Weekly

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