Ushpizin

Rated NR

Just in time for the holiday season, director Gidi Dar shares the rarely depicted celebratory traditions of Succoth, but with an unfortunate, cliché Hollywood twist. A broke and childless Orthodox Jewish couple can’t afford food and décor. They also don’t have money to buy the four types of plants used to cast their blessings, like the citron needed to ensure child-bearing. However, when an anonymous gift of $1,000 drops on their doorstep, two strangers do as well. Blinded by this miracle, the Jewish couple squanders the findings and serves the ushpizin, or “holy guests,” without knowing the company’s criminal past—at first. The performances are strong, even by the nonprofessional actors sprinkled in with the professional ones, and the subject matter is enlightening, but this small-budget independent film will get easily overlooked.

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