“Reuben” (Vincent Piazza) kinda lost his way when his father died & then his Mom (Janet Ulrich Brooks) married an Orthodox attorney (Richard Belzer) & had two more kids. His father’s brother “Uncle Sol” (Judd Hirsch) has tried to provide some structure, but Reuben has no intention of wasting his life working for Sol.
So Reuben starts spending his nights spinning discs in a local strip club, dreaming of the time when he will become a famous DJ, & sinking ever deeper into urban quicksand with each passing day.
There’s a lot going on in this ambitious Indie & the pieces don’t always fit, but the overall narrative is strong & the performances are excellent. Golden Brooks is especially heartbreaking as “Ebony,” a gorgeous young Sista on a quick path to nowhere.
Thankfully, there are no stereotypes in Reuben’s mishpokhe: all the Jewish elements are thoughful & sincere, & the jazzed up Kaddish over the closing credits is both appropriate in context & symbolically well-earned. And, oh yes: the entire film was shot in & around Chicago. Don’t know how director Ben Berkowitz did it, but Uncle Sol’s store is located on the ground floor of our famous Monadnock Building!
Photo courtesy of the CIFF Press Office. All rights reserved.