The Holy Land

Rated 2.0 An Israeli yeshiva student (Oren Rehany) strays from his studies long enough to fall for a Russian émigré prostitute in Tel Aviv (Tchelet Semel) and to come under the influence of a loose-cannon tavern owner in Jerusalem (Saul Stein). Writer and director Eitan Gorlin goes for a slice-of-life look at the seamy underbelly of modern-day Israeli society, with all its tensions and betrayals, and much of the film has a nasty ring of truth. But Gorlin’s vignettes work only in fits and starts, and his plodding pace makes 96 minutes seem like so many hours. Semel gives her character a sort of cynical poignancy; she’s quite touching. But Rehany’s character is an insufferable little prig who’s naive, annoying and extraordinarily stupid; this dull-witted twerp never would have made much of a Talmudic scholar.