Director Kevin Asch’s first feature film follows the bizarre true story of Sam (Jesse Eisenberg), a naive and awkward Hasidic Jew embroiled in an ecstasy smuggling ring by neighbour and chum Yosef (Justin Bartha) in the late 90s. Transporting large quantities of pills back into Brooklyn from Amsterdam, Sam realises he has a natural talent for the business.
The fascinating and nicely realised quirk of this tale unfolding within the Hasidic community aside, there is very little new ground broken here. Utterly predictable in terms of both plot and character development, there is also an odd lack of threat from law enforcement or the shadier elements of the trafficking world which promotes a serious lack of drama. Allied with Sam’s motivation for turning his back on his previous life and transformation into drug mule extraordinaire never being fully explained or convincing, one has real difficulty maintaining interest. Beautifully, atmospherically shot and sporting a great soundtrack, this is an otherwise quite dull affair. [Chris Fyvie]