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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "There's only God. And He has His reasons."
Few films have touched me as deeply as "Ushpizin," the story of Moshe and Mali Bellanga, their trusting in miracles, and their recognition of the tests God has placed in their path. They sometimes fail the tests, but they are always aware that God is in their midst, and they listen for His voice. The fervor of Moshe and Mali's prayers bring about a miracle, and also a...
Published on 19 Sept. 2007 by Alejandra Vernon

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting movie!
The movie gives a peak into the contradictory world of ultra-orthodox and utterly non-religious Israelis. The viewer should be familiar with the Jewish religion, otherwise might be confusing. Kind of black and white depiction. But still interesting. Well acted.
Published on 4 Nov. 2012 by Reisner


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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "There's only God. And He has His reasons.", 19 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Ushpizin [DVD] (DVD)
Few films have touched me as deeply as "Ushpizin," the story of Moshe and Mali Bellanga, their trusting in miracles, and their recognition of the tests God has placed in their path. They sometimes fail the tests, but they are always aware that God is in their midst, and they listen for His voice. The fervor of Moshe and Mali's prayers bring about a miracle, and also a great challenge, in the form of a friend of Moshe's "from the old days," and his companion, both escaped convicts. The plot takes place during the 7 day Harvest Festival of Succoth, and some of it is quite humorous, but every scene is imbued with an insight into humanity, and man's connection to his Creator.

Writer Shuli Rand stars as Moshe, with his real-life wife, Michal Bat-Sheva Rand as Mali; both are superb, with an intensity and truth in their characters that makes them totally believable, and an inner and outer beauty that captivates. Shot on location in the Mea Sherim quarter in Jerusalem, director Giddi Dar gives us marvelous details and performances from the actors in every scene. Shaul Mizrahi and Ilan Ganani are terrific as the 2 convicts, and so is Avraham Abutboul as Ben Baruch, the man who means well, but causes trouble, and won't leave until he is forgiven with a hug. The theme of forgiveness and repentance runs through the film, as well as God's great mercy.

Though this film will perhaps have a limited audience, those who will love it are anyone with familiarity and respect for Orthodox Judaism, and anyone who has a very personal relationship with his God. There are those who think the Orthodox Jew who speaks to God as though He is their most precious friend is a little "odd," and then there are those who speed down the freeway like a lemming with a cellphone stuck in their ear, and think they are "normal." Well, it takes all kinds to populate this crazy planet, and may the Moshes and Malis of the world prosper and bear much fruit.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely film, 14 Sept. 2006
By 
JEM (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ushpizin [DVD] (DVD)
This is a truly delightful, charming film. The synopsis says that the main character is forced to come to terms with his criminal past; no doubt this is the case. It seems to me, though, that a different and happier event happens - namely, people who are linked with the protagonist through his criminal past are forced to come to terms with the fact that he is no longer a criminal but has, in fact, chosen a life of observance, prayer and service. Shuli Rand seems to me a very accomplished actor, and the other cast are very good too. I would heartily recommend this film to anyone with an interest in Hassidism - especially so now that High Holy Days are approaching!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, moving and thought provoking - even for the non-Orthodox, 12 Dec. 2010
By 
Alexander Massey (Oxford, Oxon United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ushpizin [DVD] (DVD)
This film is a remarkable achievement, in that I was entertained and moved by it, despite the fact that I do not share a remotely Jewish Orthodox view of the world. It provides an insight into traditional life in a tight Orthodox community, but manages to give a universal message about human yearning, the challenge of meeting unavoidable adversity, recognising that-which-is-God in the other even when the other seems to be embodying quite the opposite; the central character unexpectedly learns and finds transcendence from within a strict code of Jewish conduct, itself a valuable lesson for myself as a viewer to acknowledge the transcendent possibility of a way of life that I would find difficult to adopt myself. There are many moments of humour in this story. A Jewishly informed viewer would get more enjoyment of certain aspects of this story, but it is such a human and humane film that I think it could and should have much wider appeal than that. I have watched this more than once, and will do so again.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AUTHENTICITY, NOT ANTHROPOLOGY, 1 Jan. 2008
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This review is from: Ushpizin [DVD] (DVD)
'Ushpizin' has received much well-deserved praise. Attention - however - has tended to concentrate on its 'folkishness' - you know, insights into the previously 'hidden' world of the ultra-orthodox Jews of Jerusalem, kinship to Singer-esque fables etc. Yet, there are a couple of aspects that seem to have been overlooked:

1. The performance of the main character - SHULI RAND - is utterly rivetting. I mean, look at the guy's EYES (they certainly compelled my attention throughout).

2. The film's underlying POINT OF VIEW: a person is obliged to acknowledge G-d for EVERYTHING that comes their way, good or bad, REGARDLESS. And that such acknowledgement is not some sort of distant IDEA but is effectively an ongoing DIALOG with G-d - a dialog in which the individual is neither too proud, nor too embarassed, nor too sophisticated to address G-d in the most personal way. You may think that this has a resemblance to Tevye's outpourings in "Fiddler On The Roof" (think: "If I were a rich man" etc). This resemblance is but superficial. Shuli Rand (the lead actor and scriptwriter of 'Ushpizin') here manages to convey the very essence of his mindset with power, conviction and dignity. He successfully opposes both the demons of his past and his proclivity to ANGER (seen in the Jewish tradition as tantamount to idol-worship) - both potential obstacles to a dialog with G-d.

It is also interesting to contrast this film with another 'expose' of orthodox Jewish life - 'KADDOSH', by noted director Amos Gitai. Gitai's film, while impressive, seems to go in search of the flaws and contradictions of the orthodox Jewish life-style. His is essentially a sceptical and - I feel - politicised view. Gitai puts the viewer into a position where they are forced to EVALUATE or JUDGE this life-style. 'Ushpizin' on the other hand avoids this by concentrating on the underlying motivation that drives a certain kind of Jewish orthodoxy: acknowledgment of the Hand of G-d in all things.

'Ushpizin' is not without it's flaws (what film isn't?). For instance, the way events unfold sometimes makes the script seem a little clunky or theatrical. Also, mixing fable with hard reality is sometimes a little hard to take. But, the power of the film's main theme elevates it and enables it to transcend such considerations. Bravo.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual Israeli film deals with life among the Orthodox in a respectful manner, 1 Feb. 2015
By 
Andres C. Salama (Buenos Aires, Argentina) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ushpizin [DVD] (DVD)
This interesting, crowd pleasing Israeli film can best be described as a fable rather than as a tragedy or a comedy. Also, its respectful view of Haredi (ultra orthodox) life makes it an unusual film to see.

The movie's protagonists are a married couple living in Jerusalem's Haredi district, newly religious Moshe Belanga (Shuli Rand, an actor that has embraced religion and has returned to the screen with the authorization of his rabbi to film this) and Mali (Michal Bat-Sheva, his real life wife, who has never acted in a film before). With their relationship already strained for her inability to have a child, they are now very short of money as the holiday of Sukkot nears, since Moshe's yeshiva has cut his stipend, they are overwhelmed by back rent and have barely any money for buying food. They pray for a miracle, which they eventually get, when they receive the sukkot, or tabernacle, the citron used in the holiday and even guests, or ushpizin. Their joy is short-lived, however, since their unexpected guests, Elihayu and Yosef (Shaul Mizrahi and Ilan Ganani) are, unbeknownst to them, actually convicts fleeing their parole, Eliyahu being an acquaintance from Moshe's tough pre religious life. So Moshe and Mali are placed in the uncomfortable position of practicing genuine hospitality and tolerance to those whose attitudes and actions place them diametrically opposed to everything they stand. But they will take this, as most problems they face in their life, as a test for their faith.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Modern day fable that is naive yet believable, 10 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Ushpizin (Amazon Instant Video)
A unique insight into the orthodox Jewish way of life. The view is a chance for the directors weave a modern day fable of a man and woman who believe their lives are undergoing a true heavenly trial. It succeeds is making the whole thing sensible even if we perceive the couple to be overly naive and as such we don't lose faith or respect for them. If the plot at times seems farcical it is justified because if that fable slant that does not require everything to be realistic. Both leads are married in real life and that adds a lot to the intimacy if their scenes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Really different. in a good way!, 31 Jan. 2013
By 
Mrs. Jane White (ENGLAND) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ushpizin [DVD] (DVD)
This film gave an insight into some of the orthodox jewish customs in Israel as well as being an extremely entertaining story.
l have scored it as 5 stars because, for me it had everything. An engrosing storyline, completely different to any films l had seen before. Well acted and very realistic. I would love to see more like this.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Film-But Don't Extrapolate Too Much From It, 8 Oct. 2010
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This review is from: Ushpizin [DVD] (DVD)
This film is wonderful, I recommend it to anyone interested in traditional Judaism, but it is important to keep in mind that the film portrays a particular family and environment that is not necessarily typical of what is called "Haredi" or "Ultra-Orthodox" Judaism. The couple who are the center of focus are what are referred to in Israel
as "Hozrim b'teshuva", i.e. people who came from a non-religiously observant life and who have adopted a haredi religious life, in the style of the Breslov Hasidim. This group, unlike others, attracts a large number of people from non-religious backgrounds, and this is reflected in the manner of speech we hear in the film. Their conversations are filled with modern Israeli expressions and slang (I have lived in Israel for over 20 years, but I needed to have my children explain to me what a lot of the slang expressions meant!). We would not hear this from other Haredi Jews who were born and raised in this environment where effort is made to prevent the intrusion of the culture and mannerisms of the outside, "secular" world which the newly religious still have. Also, we see a lot of emphasis on the value of "simple faith", prayer and intense analysis of the day's events in the light of one's own personal performance of mitzvot or commission of sins, as opposed to viewing one's life as being being buffeted largely by outside pressures and events. Other streams of Haredi and non-Haredi Orthodox Judaism, such as the non-Hasidic "Lithuanian" yeshiva world, take a more intellectual approach to life in which great emphasis is laid on the study of the classic sources of Judaism, i.e. Bible, Talmud, Midrashim and Jewish philosophy. Similarly, the people involved in this film take a passive approach to life, whereas other religious, Orthodox Jews (i.e. the "Torani" Religious Zionist stream) have
taken a much more activist approach towards fulfilling the mitzvah of settling and developing the Land of Israel while maintaining just as intense a religious lifestyle as the people portrayed in the film.

Having said all this, the film is a masterpiece, both from the technical point of view (directing, camera work, lighting, acting) which shows that Israeli filmmakers can take their place with the best in the world, and also because the film refuses to make traditional Jews a caricature or stereotyped, which so many films do (I also recommend those who enjoyed this film to see the film "The Chosen" for a realistic view of
Orthodox Judaism in New York around the time of the Second World War
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting movie!, 4 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: Ushpizin [DVD] (DVD)
The movie gives a peak into the contradictory world of ultra-orthodox and utterly non-religious Israelis. The viewer should be familiar with the Jewish religion, otherwise might be confusing. Kind of black and white depiction. But still interesting. Well acted.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great even with subtitles, 7 Feb. 2014
By 
Peter Richmond (Wales - UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ushpizin [DVD] (DVD)
I expected to enjoy this, but it is all in Hebrew. Once you get used to the subtitles you quickly get drawn into the plots of the film. Truly inspiring and an insight to how the festivals are kept by the Hebrews of today.
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Ushpizin [DVD]
Ushpizin [DVD] by Giddi Dar (DVD - 2007)
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