Dave White
Ushpizin Review

Dave's Rating:

2.0

… anguished conversing with G_d …

Who's in It: Shuli Rand, Michal Bat Sheva Rand

The Basics: An Orthodox Israeli husband and wife have their faith tested by some escaped convicts during the time of Succoth, a Jewish holiday that commemorates the Exodus. "Ushpizin" means "holy guests" in Aramaic.

What's the Deal? Religious films are hardly ever serious investigations into faith. Instead, they serve a very specific purpose for their audience: They confirm already-held belief systems and comfort viewers who want to see the characters tested just long enough for everyone's faith to be rewarded. So when the devout married couple in this movie endures suffering at the hands of criminals, it's kind of like spiritual Fear Factor — if they can handle the abuse, they get to collect the prize at the end. Any other outcome is unacceptable.

How You Should Pray: There is some seriously wild and anguished conversing with G_d going on in this movie. And yes, everyone looks up at the sky when they do it. And they do it a lot.

Non-Religious Viewers Welcome Here: Just know that, much like in The Passion of the Christ, in which Jesus gets not only crucified but resurrected, and in the surprise-hit indie Mormon movie God's Army, in which the Mormon missionaries pray until a crippled character walks again, this film presents the tenets of ultra-Orthodox Judaism as simply How the World Really Works.

What He Did After Jane's Addiction Broke Up: Israeli actor Ilan Ganani, who plays one of the criminals, is a dead ringer for Perry Farrell.

Fun Fact: Shuli Rand, who stars in the film and is a popular Israeli actor, wrote the script after he became Orthodox. His real-life wife, Michal Bat Sheva Rand, plays his wife in the movie.

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