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The Holy Land (2001)

Cast: Oren Rehany, Oren Rehany, Saul Stein, more...
Director: Eitan Gorlin, Eitan Gorlin
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Hart Sharp Video
Genre: Drama, Coming of Age
Running Time: 101 min.
Languages: English
    see additional details...

A young man discovers the holiest city in the world can also be full of seductive temptations and ethical challenges in this independent coming-of-age drama. Mendy (Oren Rehany) is the son of a devout Orthodox Jewish family in Tel Aviv. Mendy has been raised to become a man of the cloth, and after completing his basic education, he travels to Jerusalem to attend rabbinical school. However, Mendy soon discovers that Jerusalem is a larger and more cosmopolitan city than the Tel Aviv neighborhood where he was raised, and as he tries to satisfy his curiosity about the larger world around him, he finds himself seriously tempted for the first by the forbidden pleasures of the secular life. Mendy strikes up an unlikely friendship with Mike (Saul Stein), the owner of a local tavern that serves as a watering hole for eccentrics and outsiders of all stripes, whom Mendy gets to know on a first name basis. Mendy also finds himself thinking about sex, and one of his teachers suggests he visit a brothel as a way of confronting his sinful urges head on. There, he meets Sacha (Tchelet Semel), a Russian girl his age whose tragic story and luminous beauty make a strong impression upon him. Also screened under the title The Jerusalem Syndrome, The Holy Land was the first feature film from writer and director Eitan Gorlin, an Israeli expatriate who himself attended rabbinical school before dropping out to explore the possibilities of secular life in the United States. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Israel Today? by talltale September 25, 2004 - 7:17 AM PDT
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
Featuring the most interesting characters to people a movie in some time, THE HOLY LAND is intriguing, all right. And the view it gives us of modern day Israel is nothing like I've ever seen. While the performances are just fine and the movie consistently interesting, as it meanders along, I began to question its veracity. Combining odd, sometimes alarming views of religion, immigration, terrorism, sex and friendship into an appealing-looking but finally inedible stew, by the end, the film seems to have hopped its own track, moving into territory usually occupied by the thriller genre. Perhaps this is the point the writer/director is trying to make--that Israel today is so fractured, hypocritical and downright loony that nothing makes sense and most of it, in any case, will come to a bad end. (Now that I think of it, this description could apply as well to the U.S. Hmmmm...) THE HOLY LAND is certainly thought-provoking and definitely worth a look for those interested in world film, history and politics.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.00)
3 Votes
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2003: Jonathan Rosenbaum's recommendations
Recommendations from the year 2003 by Jonathan Rosenbaum
Judaica & Israelica
Films of interest to Jews or that involve Israel.

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