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In Jerusalem's orthodox neighborhoods, it's Succoth, seven days celebrating life's essentials in a sukkah, a temporary shack of both deprivation and hospitality. A devout couple, Moshe and Mali, married nearly five years and childless, are broke and praying for a miracle. Suddenly, miracles abound: a friend finds Moshe a sukkah he says is abandoned, Moshe is the beneficiary of local charitable fundraising, and two escaped convicts arrive on Moshe and Mali's doorstep in time to be their ushpizin - their guests. The miracles then become trials. Rabbinical advice, absolution, an effort to avoid anger, and a 1000-shekel citron figure in Moshe's dark night of the soul. Written by
Shuli Rand had two conditions for making this movie, both were met. The first was that his real-life wife, Michal Bat-Sheva Rand, would play his wife in the film. The second is that in Israel the film would not be screened on the Jewish sabbath. See more »
They worked out of luck, out of hope. And faith was all they had to hang on to. But on this holy week, where guests are considered a blessing, these two unexpected visitors bring with them: a secret from the past. A secret that would test their love and challenge their faith. Now only a miracle will turn their fortune around.
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Israeli cinema continues to surprise us. Not knowing anything about what this film was about, we went on the strength of the trailers we had watched. Giddi Dar, the director of "Ushpizin", is a secular man who has created a wonderful movie of hope and faith, based on the screen play by its star, Shuli Rand.
This story might be set in Israel, but it will probably resonate in audiences that go to see it with an open mind because it can be translated to other cultures. "Ushpizin" presents us an Orthodox Jewish couple that can hardly make ends meet. A religious feast is dawning on Moshe and Malli and they don't have enough to eat themselves, expecting somehow in a miracle to solve their situation. Moshe is a man that had a dubious past and has decided to become religious as a way to atone. Malli hasn't been able to conceive, a thorn in their hearts because both want a baby desperately.
When a mysterious envelope is slid under their door, Malli is shocked to find a thousand dollars in it. That seems to be the solution to their monetary problems. At the same time, we have witnessed a distraught Moshe praying for a miracle. The couple is not prepared for the unexpected riches they get, the only thing is they don't have anyone to invite to partake of the feast Malli has prepared.
Moshe's problems start just as the couple is going to begin eating, two strange men appear at their door. They are Eliyaher and Yossef, two convicts that knew Moshe in his prior life. The Bellangas believe this is another miracle because the best way to celebrate the feast is to have guests to share it with. Moshe and Malli are in for a rude awakening.
The film works because of the fine work of all the principals who play their roles convincingly. Shuli Rand is excellent. Michal Rand, makes the long suffering Malli a woman the viewer can identify with.
The film is almost a fable with a marvelous ending that will bring smiles to the viewer. Giddi Gar, the director, has to be congratulated for making this such a personal and, at the same time, universal story, come true for everyone's delight.
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