Ushpizin (2005)



Critic Consensus: Ushpizin offers a rare and warmly intimate look into ultra-Orthodox Jewish culture.

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Movie Info

The insular world of Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem comes to the screen (with their blessings) in this warm comedy drama. Moshe (Shuli Rand) was once a secular Jew, but he rediscovered his faith and became an ultra-Orthodox Jew, and with his wife, Mali (Michal Bat Sheva Rand), he struggles to support their family. With the harvest festival of Sukkot around the corner, Moshe is broke, and asks for help from a yeshiva charitable fund. Moshe is told the fund has been depleted, and he and Mali are left with no options but to pray for a miracle. To their surprise, the next day they're informed some money was found in the fund after all, and they are given 1,000 dollars; Moshe and Mali believe this is the miracle they asked for, and they joyously make plans to build a sukkah , a gazebo-like structure where Orthodox Jews entertain guests and serve their meals. Just as he completes the new sukkah , Moshe is surprised by the unexpected arrival of Eliahu (Shaul Mizrahi) and Yosef (Ilan Gannai), two old friends from his restless days before he embraced his current faith. Imagining the Lord has sent him guests as part of the miracle, Moshe takes in his old pals and tries to make peace with their rambunctious ways, but what he doesn't know is that the two are on the run from the law, having recently escaped from jail. Ushpizin was scripted by leading man Shuli Rand, who is in real life an ultra-Orthodox Jew and demanded a number of conditions before agreeing to participate in the making of the film (such as the producers agreeing to never show the picture on the Sabbath).
PG (for mild thematic elements)
Art House & International , Comedy , Drama
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Shuli Rand
as Moshe Bellanga
Michal Bat Sheva Rand
as Malli Bellanga
Shaul Mizrahi
as Eliyahu Scorpio
Ilan Ganani
as Yosef
Avraham Abutboul
as Ben Baruch
Michael Vaigel
as Ethrog Assessor
Daniel Rand
as Elazar
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Critic Reviews for Ushpizin

All Critics (62) | Top Critics (23)

[The film] places a captivating life study in the context of a modern fairy tale.

Full Review… | December 2, 2005
Toronto Star
Top Critic

Very light, even saccharine at times, but blessed with enough pure charm to make the syrup go down a treat.

Full Review… | December 2, 2005
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

An unexpected delight from an unlikely source, Ushpizin is the first feature film set inside the closed community of Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox Jews.

December 1, 2005
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic

It had me, this film with blessings on its mind.

Full Review… | November 28, 2005
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

Ushpizin will certainly be manna to people of religious sensibility, but you need not be a believer to appreciate its humor and humanity.

Full Review… | November 23, 2005
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Viewers who aren't familiar with Orthodox Jewish culture might have trouble fully relating to this Israeli film. But everyone should be able to appreciate its heartwarming tone.

Full Review… | November 23, 2005
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Ushpizin

I couldn't seem to get into this movie, and it had very little to do with the fact that it was subtitled. It just never seemed to go anywhere. Maybe I wasn't in the right frame of mind for it, but this was far from being one of the best movies I've ever seen.

Amanda Hendsbee
Amanda Hendsbee

Very good; very Israeli. I would only recommend it for those who don't need constant amounts of action in their films, though. Even then, you may want to have some basic knowledge of Hasidism or at least Middle Eastern culture. Pretty entertaining and funny throughout, and, oh, such a funny but sad conclusion! Those who haven't seen it will probably never guess it, either.

Mariana Arevalo
Mariana Arevalo

This is a beautiful film, with wonderfully nuanced characters, that offers an interesting look into the life and faith of an Orthodox couple. The acting is incredible and the love between Moshe and Mali is heart-wrenchingly real, helped by the fact that Shuli Rand and Michal Bat-Sheva Rand are actually married. The story isn’t what I would call “riveting” but the film isn’t negatively affected by the simplicity of the story, in fact it is the simplicity that lets the viewer understand the characters in such an intimate way. Ushpizin is well worth watching to get a glimpse into the life that the non-Orthodox are rarely privy to and to see some really fantastic acting.

Gemma Wyatt
Gemma Wyatt

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