Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 5 Critics What's this?

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  • Summary: Daniel, an arrogant, restless young Londoner is bored with his meaningless life. When he seeks sympathy from his old Jewish grandmother, she sends him on a mission to Europe to find the grave of her father who disappeared during the Second World War. Following his great grandfather's trail, Daniel's journey leads him to Paris, Berlin, Prague, Budapest, Belgrade and Sofia, finally having to flee to Rome. As he passes from one intense experience to the next, he is caught up in the turmoil of change taking place in the former communist countries, in the process discovering his Jewish roots which had previously never mattered to him. What started as an excuse simply to travel and have fun soon becomes an obsessive quest and a journey of personal discovery. (HP Releasing) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 0 out of 5
  2. Negative: 3 out of 5
  1. Reviewed by: Laura Kern
    By the time the frustratingly silly ending arrives, it's confirmed that Shem, which translates to "name" in Hebrew, is just as confused as its protagonist. Daniel's looks may charm everyone who crosses his path, but he is like the movie: most of the depth that does exist remains buried beneath the surface.
  2. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    A bizarre hybrid between Euro erotic thriller and a parable of Jewish awakening.
  3. A muddle of good intentions and bad direction, this amateurish road movie follows a young Brit across Europe as he reconnects with his Jewish roots.
  4. Reviewed by: Tim Grierson
    Writer-director Caroline Roboh's moralistic paean to Jewish self-knowledge is so solemnly high-minded that one almost feels bad admitting that the film's only spark comes from its occasional tawdry ludicrousness.
  5. 25
    As a narrative, Shem, directed by Caroline Roboh, is a pointless hodgepodge, with a finale that will leave viewers scratching their heads.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 1 out of 2
  1. StevenE.
    May 27, 2006
    I thought this was an insightful, well-crafted exploration of Jewish roots and the eternal struggle between good and evil. File this one under BYB. (Bring Your Brain.) Expand
  2. KenA.
    Jul 1, 2006
    The only reason I'd give this film even one point is because it's 96 degrees out and the theater air con was working beautifully. The protagonist's only character growth seems to be a better understanding of the grandfather he never met, and the ability to say no to a sexual situation involving minors, the only truly moral choice he makes in the entire film. The "looking for great-grandpa" plot is constantly being thrown aside to chase down side alleys involving an abduction that mysteriously ends as soon as it begins, a DaVinci Code-like mystery that goes unexplained, and the sudden appearance of grandma in Italy (how she knew her grandson would be there at all is unexplained) for reasons that are never revealed, as the end credits come on just at the point the audience figures the narrative would explain all the meshuganah going on. This movie simply goes all over the place, and the one to blame is the writer-director, who needs to go back to film school to re-do the plot development and editing classes she evidently cut. Expand