Sunday, May 30, 2010
Inspired by true events, this is a fascinating story of Hassidic Jews that became Ecstasy smugglers in the late '90's. The film stars Jessie Eisenberg as Sam, a young man at a crossroad in his Jewish life and Justin Bartha as Josef, the Orthodox yet conniving hustler that gets Sam caught up in the drug trade.
With this film, Mr. Eisenberg is starting to shed the awkward teenage roles he has played for so long. He is an engaging young actor and always interesting to watch. Mr. Bartha, known primarily for "The Hangover" as the missing groom, shows his range here as he pulls Sam deeper into into a corrupt world, betraying his values, family and his faith.
The best part of the film is early on watching Sam go about his daily Hassidic life and then his initiation and seduction into the drug trade. From there on, the story takes on familiar themes of the "good guy gone bad" and it's only the unusual setting that keeps the viewer engaged. While the principles do a good job, many of the secondary actors fall flat and even a cameo from rapper Q-Tip is disappointing. He should stick to rap. Mr. Eisenberg, however, is taking the next step in what continues to be a solid acting career.