Posted on Thursday, April 8th, 2010 by Russ Fischer
One of the many Sundance debuts this year was Holy Rollers, from first-time feature director Kevin Asch. It features Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Bartha, Ari Graynor and Q-Tip in the seemingly unlikely story of a young man (Eisenberg) who is drawn by a neighbor (Bartha) into a scheme to smuggle ecstasy into the US. Now there’s a trailer for the picture, which First Independent Features will release in May.
Some of the trailer looks like this is a film that could draw me in; there’s a classic fish out of water underpinning, and I’m often willing to give unusual gangland stories a bit of extra rope. BUt there’s some pretty routine beats in here, too, and reviews out of Sundance were mixed. Judge for yourself by checking out the embed below. You can get director Kevin Asch’s thoughts on making the film in an interview at IndieWire.
First Independent Features will release Holy Rollers in a limited run on May 21.
Ye olde official synopsis:
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Holy Rollers is inspired by actual events in the late nineties when Hasidic Jews were recruited as mules to smuggle ecstasy from Europe into the United States. Sam Gold (Jesse Eisenberg), a young Hasid from an Orthodox Brooklyn community reluctantly follows the path his family has chosen for him, awaiting a pending arranged marriage and studying to become a Rabbi. A charming neighbor, Yosef Zimmerman (Justin Bartha), senses Sam’s resistance and propositions him to transport ‘medicine’ for Jackie (Danny A. Abeckaser), an Israeli dealer, and his girlfriend, Rachel (Ari Graynor). Sam quickly demonstrates his business skill to his bosses, who instantly take Sam under their wing. Now exposed to the exciting and gritty worlds of Manhattan and Amsterdam nightlife, Sam begins to spiral deeper into their detrimental lifestyle, experimenting with ecstasy and then falling for Rachel. As the business grows, Sam’s double life begins to rip his family apart and the community becomes suspicious of his illegal activities. Sam slowly comes to realize the façade behind the easy money and parties. Caught between life as a smuggler and the path back to God, Sam goes on the run, forced to make a fatal decision that could bring the entire operation crashing down.