Redemption

Redemption follows Moshe Folkenflik’s Menachem as he sets out to raise money for his daughter’s medical costs by starting up his old band, with the deliberately-paced storyline detailing the various complications that ensue and Menachem’s efforts at reconciling his newly-devout religious beliefs with a rock ‘n roll lifestyle. It’s the sort of premise that easily could’ve been employed in service of a brisk, feel-good narrative, and yet it’s clear immediately that filmmakers Boaz Yehonatan Yacov and Joseph Madmony have absolutely no interest in taking a mainstream approach to the material – as Redemption’s been saddled with a low-key and thoroughly lackadaisical feel that generally holds the viewer at arms length. The pervasively unambitious atmosphere is compounded by a seriously (and often distractingly) subdued lead performance, as Folkenflik’s decidedly charisma-free take on his morose character makes it virtually impossible to work up any real interest in or sympathy for Menachem’s exploits. There’s little doubt, then, that Redemption benefits from an ongoing inclusion of compelling sequences, including a stirring interlude in which Menachem is confronted by a fellow band member regarding his strict adherence to his newfound religious outlook (ie Menachem is using god as an excuse to hold everyone and everything at a distance). The watchable atmosphere is also perpetuated by a handful of admittedly engaging and memorable musical moments, although such positives are virtually canceled out by an anticlimactic and wheel-spinning final stretch – with the end result an almost passable yet entirely underwhelming character study that could’ve used a few more conventional elements.

**1/2 out of ****

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