Holy Rollers Review
By David Kempler
Schlock and Roll
During a six-month period from 1998-99, a group of young, Hasidic Jews were employed by a criminal enterprise to act as drug mules. They brought over one million Ecstacy tablets into the United States, before they were arrested and jailed. Kevin Asch's "Holy Rollers" is based on these events.
Sam Gold (Jesse Eisenberg) is a Hasidic young man that lives in an insulated Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn. His friend and neighbor, Leon (Jason Fuchs), also a Hasid, is on the same path of life as Sam, but Leon's older brother, Yosef (Justin Bartha), is more wise-guy than man of religion.
When Sam loses the battle to Leon, to win the hand of a young lady, he is more drawn to Yosef the outlaw, and forms a friendship with him. Turns out that Yosef is not interested in Sam's friendship. He offers Sam a chance to earn some cash by transporting medicine from Amsterdam. Sam is minimally apprehensive, but takes the job. Soon, Sam learns the truth but by then he's already enjoying his life of money and women.
"Holy Rollers" doesn't work on any particular level. At no time was I concerned for the safety of Sam, or anyone else, so it fails as a story about the dangers of the underworld. I never even cared if something bad happened to any of the characters. Watching "Holy Rollers" is like watching a bad docudrama, with inferior actors. This is not to say that the actors here are inferior. It's just that everyone is going through the motions expected of them. Everything plays out as it should, but in the end it feels like you've seen something that will now vanish, leaving not a trace upon your consciousness. In Yiddish, this would be known as schlock.