Tracker Pixel for Entry

​‘One of Us,’ a rare look at those who flee ultra-orthodox group

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | December 20th, 2017

On the occasion of the Netflix release of “One of Us,” veteran filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady shared with writer Kate Erbland some of the self-imposed “rules” to their formidable approach.

The documentarians indicated that potential subjects must offer rare and special access. They also make sure that the content includes “observational, vérité material,” along the order of high-stakes events unfolding in the here and now. The directors expect that the “characters be different by act three.” Participants in the film do not see footage during production and are not allowed “any editorial input.”

“One of Us” follows three individuals who have left or are in the process of leaving the strict community of New York City’s Hasidic Jews, to which they once so inextricably belonged.

Etty, no longer willing or able to suffer physical and emotional violence at the hands of her husband, fears the loss of her seven children and struggles with the potentially catastrophic financial burden of a protracted court battle in which the deck appears to be stacked against her.

Teenage Ari yearns for knowledge of the greater, wider world. He gushes about the singular thrill of exploring Wikipedia.

Finally, Luzer has tested the waters in Los Angeles, where he hopes to find work as an actor, his passion born from clandestine viewings of forbidden movies.

The emotional weight of the film -- and its most chilling drama -- resides in the sections focused on Etty. Her last name deliberately withheld, she attends a support group called Footsteps, but it becomes clear as time passes that defiance of the Hasidic leadership is a seemingly Sisyphean endeavor. As David Edelstein points out in his essay on the film, the Hasidim “...do not believe that secular laws should affect them.” The portrait of Etty emerges as the film’s centerpiece, and she alone could easily have sustained interest for an entire feature.

For so many audience members, “One of Us” gets close to something that would otherwise be foreign, hidden, and obscure. And yet the filmmakers locate universally human desires and experiences to which anyone can relate.

Overt vilification of the leadership within the patriarchal structure of Brooklyn’s orthodox community is withheld, although the vast majority of secular (and scores of religious) viewers won’t require much persuasion to imagine that the treatment of Etty, Ari, and Luzer is brutal and unfair.

One of the most intriguing scenes in the film records an interaction between Ari and an older community member at a playground known to be a popular hangout for youngsters who like the location’s free wifi access.

The elder, unknowingly providing Grady and Ewing with the title of their film, asks Ari, “Are you one of us?” The question is sincere, since Ari has cut his payot but still wears a yarmulke.

The exchange is a vivid demonstration of just how difficult it can be for a member to leave, as well as a specific reminder of the painful feelings of abandonment and rejection that accompany the liminal state when one is neither completely in nor completely out.

Recently in:

FARGO– A legislator, hopeful politicians, and business owners appealed to the governor’s office Monday morning with hopes of an executive order to fight the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of Net Neutrality.The…

Last week we talked about my lack of photographic skills and then what the heck am I going to do with all of these bad pictures that I take. Storage options for those pictures continues this week:RAIDAnother storage option is a…

Wednesday, April 25, 9pm-howlingThe Aquarium, 226 Broadway, FargoYou may have heard their sick beats on 95.9 lpfm on Friday's from 5pm-midnight. Now you can dance your pants off in the presence of the minds behind ”The Riverside…

According to Greek mythology Hades is to blame for the Earth’s mournful state of winter. The story involves Persephone the goddess of nature and Hades the god of the underworld in a classic caper of obsession, abduction, and…

Does That Old-Time Religion Signal The End Of Rational Thought?An incident about gender identity in the Maryland Legislature last week magnified a microcosm of what we are going through in the United States about religion in the…

FARGO - A collection of memories from High Plains Reader's annual Cocktail Showdown. Participants were judged on creativity, flavor, and presentation; and this year we added a new category. Like years before, each establishment was…

All About Food

​Oysters

by HPR Staff

By Ben Myhrebenmyhre35@gmail.comAs a North Dakota native, raw oysters are just not a food staple that I think about. We are about as far from the coasts as we can get and we have a backyard full of tasty local cuisine, like walleye…

Record Store Day is all about music artists and fans celebrating “the culture of the independently owned record store.” A variety of unique and special releases are pressed for Record Store Day and those are only distributed to…

Leveraging whatever name-brand clout it might carry with the target demographic, “Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare” -- the onscreen title for the pre and post-credit sequences -- won’t make the kind of impact previously enjoyed by…

There are so many cool places to be in Austin during the South by Southwest Festival -- like the Flatstock Market, which displays the works of the world’s top gig poster artists. The show features posters of varying styles,…

By Nathan Roybardsdream@gmail.comYou are absolutely right. The title is not “To be or not to be” from the famous Shakespeare soliloquy in "Hamlet." I won’t be talking about Shakespeare particularly. I will expound the…

Fargo has its share of people who are passionate about stand-up comedy, even if the success of clubs devoted to it has been mixed. Despite the fact we have seen places like Courtney’s Comedy Club and Level 2 Comedy Club close…

I consider myself an avid wine drinker, but I recently found out there are more than 10,000 varieties of grapes, and about 1,500 of those are used to make commercial wines. I don’t know about you, but I could probably name about…

A few months ago, I was introduced to the concept of probiotics and how they work with our bodies. I would never have guessed the change that occurred after their introduction into my system.I always considered myself a fairly…

By Melissa Martin melissamartincounselor@live.com “I’m sorry” are two vital words to be used in relationships because human beings are imperfect people living in imperfect environments. Ask yourself the following…

Calm was the day in late JulyAnd bright was the sun across the skyBut inside his chest the calm had brokenGovernor Sinner had started croakin’.I laughed the first time I read that, and I’m still laughing every time I think…