Metascore
58

Mixed or average reviews - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 21
  2. Negative: 2 out of 21
  1. 80
    One of its great strengths lies in its surprising universality.
  2. The acting and directing are uneven, but many scenes have strong emotional and political power.
  3. In the psychologically scarred world of The Holy Land, sex and religion, love and hate, survival and despair all ricochet around, waiting to explode.
  4. 70
    The film, like the beleaguered country it depicts, has a raw, neurotic, brawling yet tender vitality.
  5. 70
    This broadly acted first feature is exceedingly direct, appropriately sordid, and at times, almost delicate.
  6. 70
    A former yeshiva student himself, Gorlin turns this tale of political intrigue and the search for divinity into an act of liberation -- if not outright defiance.
  7. Reviewed by: Jon Matsumoto
    70
    Offers an occasionally fascinating look at the complex social, religious and political dynamics that help define the sacred city of Jerusalem.
  8. The acting of the main cast is uniformly nuanced, and, except for some bad makeup on Mendy's father, the film never looks as low-budget as it must have been.
  9. The story's resolution isn't very satisfying, but I considered most of this movie time well spent.
  10. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    63
    For all the film's flaws, it has a caustic, nondenominational view of apocalypses to come.
  11. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    60
    The film is really a timely critique of the ongoing insanity that has engulfed Israeli life.
  12. Reviewed by: Allison Benedikt
    50
    Gorlin's fiction, based loosely on his own life, must be better than that of "Frontline." And it's not.
  13. 50
    Fails to capture the anguish and struggles of an ultra-Orthodox Jew adapting to a more secular world as did Amos Gitai's Kadosh, a film this one sometimes brings to mind.
  14. Serious and absurd (mostly, it's a drama) but never finds a good rhythm. The movie flounders in a way that calls too much attention to itself -- and is hurt by jarring and unbelievable plot twists.
  15. 50
    This film might've worked better as a comedy.
  16. It has the awkwardness that characterizes many first features and, as befits a culture that does not always prize refinement, some of its performances and situations are not as subtle as they should be.
  17. A barbed reflection on the great divide between secular and ultra-Orthodox Judaism in Israeli culture. But its digressive screenplay lacks focus and momentum and is too oblique to connect many of the dots between its characters and their behavior.
  18. Although the narrative hiccups in The Holy Land can be chalked up to the mistakes of a beginning filmmaker, they are not disruptive enough to diminish the film’s realistic impact.
  19. Reviewed by: Phil Hall
    30
    Small, amateurish Israeli feature.
  20. 25
    The film's violent finale comes out of nowhere and will leave bewildered viewers wondering if they might have dozed off for a reel or two.

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