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Shem (Unrated)

Release Date: May 26th, 2006 (Village East Cinemas) by HP Releasing.
The Cast: Ash Newman, Cyrielle Clair, Geraldine de Bastion, Perrante Ferranti, Istvan Szabo, Gordana Grubjesic, Hadassah Hungar Diamant, John Gordon, Pavel Rimburg, Caroline Roboh.

Directed by Caroline Roboh.

BASIC PREMISE: Daniel (Newman) travels throughout Europe to find his grandfather’s grave.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Ash Newman, who channels a younger version of Jude Law, gives a charismatic performance as Daniel, a young man from London who goes on a “Eurotrip” to complete a simple mission given by his grandmother (Diamant) to find his grandfather’s grave. To add more mystery to the plot, Daniel must also uncover the secrets of his grandfather’s history. Throughout his quest through cities such as Prague, Berlin, and Paris, he woos a variety of women who help him have some fun and find a place to sleep. Not surprisingly, none of the relationships amount to more than a fling. As Daniel gets closer and closer to finding his grandfather’s grave by searching for information in museums, he runs into obstacles and questions people who purposefully hide information from him—unbeknownst to him. Writer/director Caroline Roboh moves the plot with awkward pacing and poor transitions between scenes. She simply rushes the dialogue and simplifies it, which makes it seems unnatural and contrived. On top of that, much of the dialogue feels stilted and awkward, such as when an elderly woman—out of nowhere—says to Daniel at the Sabbath dinner table, “I notice you staring at my candlesticks.” Unfortunately, Shem jumps around too much from genre to genre without being effective in either one: one minute it tries to be a drama, the next a romance, then a mystery, and in a brief, unnecessary scene, it goes into the horror/action genre.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: It’s important to learn about your ancestors’ history so that they aren’t just a name or a “shem”. Everyone has an interesting life no matter what their vocation was at that time. By learning about your roots, just like Daniel does, you can also learn a lot about yourself.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Stilted dialogue and awkward directing.


IN A NUTSHELL: Ash Newman gives a charismatic performance! Although it has a good message, it suffers from a stilted screenplay and awkward transitions between scenes.


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