Ushpizin Review

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A childless orthodox Jewish couple pray constantly to be blessed with a family. When some guests come to stay over the duration of the festival of Succoth (an action believed to be blessed), the couple's patience is sorely tested, to the point where a miracle may be required.


Benjamin Franklin said that guests, like fish, stink after three days. In Ushpizin (‘holy guests’) — the first film made by members of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in collaboration with secular filmmakers — the theory is tested, along with the faith of Moshe and Malli (real-life husband and wife Shuli Rand and Michal Bat Sheva Rand), as they are forced to contend with two unwelcome visitors over a religious holiday.

Filmed in Hebrew using many non-actors, the story is often surprising, sometimes funny, and always engaging. Already an award-winning hit in Israel, Ushpizin sadly falls short of delivering on its crossover potential, partly because several elements on which the plot depend remain unexplained, likely leaving the average Gentile scratching his or her head.

A flawed but fascinating (and frequently funny) insight into a culture seldom explored on film from an insider's point of view.