Holy Rollers (2010)
Directed by: Kevin Asch
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Bartha, Danny A. Abeckaser
To Queue or Not to Queue: Holy Rollers is a movie that you won’t see coming. It is most likely not on anybody’s radar and rightfully so. With an unknown director and a relatively unknown cast most probably wouldn’t be expected to have heard of this movie or seen it. This was made before Jesse Eisenberg got all the fame that ‘The Social Network’ brought him but it shows how talented of a young actor he is to an arguably greater extent than TSN did.
It will be a hard story to relate to for most as it focuses on a part of society that most don’t see or even know about. The story focuses on Sam who is a Hasidic Jew living in New York. In NYC there is a very large concentration of extremely orthodox Jewish people who live within the city. This contingent of Orthodox Jews is recognizable by the distinctive hats they wear and the curls they have in their hair coming down in front of their ears.
For these people living in this world must be difficult. They wish to live in a simpler time where faith and family are the most important. Making money is not necessary, having material possessions is not necessary, as long as they have each other and their beliefs then everything will be ok. They chose to live in that reality as the rest of the world slowly closed in around them. In ‘Holy Rollers’ one gets the feeling that their neighborhood is almost like an island or the community in M. Night Shyamalans ‘The Village.’ Not that these people are delusional, they simply wish to live different than the world around them and find themselves constantly confronted with a society does not value things the same way they do.
This makes for a hard life for these people and it is why Sam wants to reach out for something more. Sam was supposed to be set up with a woman to get married to (think arranged marriage) but that didn’t end up working out. Sam is convinced that it is only because he and his family don’t have much money and he sets out to rectify this situation. This is where he enlists the help of his neighbor Yosef who brings him to Jackie who starts using them to smuggle ecstasy pills through customs. Jackie feels that as Hasidic Jews are usually seen as people that keep to themselves that nobody will question if they are bringing illegal narcotics in to the country.
Sam is slowly brought in further and further into this drug smuggling ring, all the while slowly being confronted with more of the outside world that his community has struggled to protect him from. Sam is constantly battling with this. He questions how much further he wants to go and how much his faith really means to him. He is constantly saddled with choices about his faith or the lifestyle he wants to live. Eventually his family finds out and his hand is forced as he fully embraces the drug smuggling lifestyle.
Eisenberg gives a phenomenal performance here. It’s hard not to border on the melodramatic when playing a character in which their world comes crashing down right in front of them. The thing that Eisenberg does here that truly shows his talent is display the restraint that is needed for a role like this. De Niro did it in ‘Taxi Driver,’ Eisenberg showed it in ‘The Social Network’ and he shows even more of it here. He is definitely one of the more talented actors of our generation. His cause is also helped by a phenomenal performance by Justin Bartha who may have upstaged him. With turns in ‘The Hangover’ and ‘National Treasure’ it is a revelation to see how much talent he actually has, but it’s there. What’s even more amazing is that this was not recognized by any awards shows. This is definitely worth your time.
Verdict: To Queue