Holy Lands 2019 ****

James Caan is a bona fide film star who always kept his hand in as an actor; he gives one of his best performances in this thoughtful, tricky film from writer/director Amanda Sthers. Much like 2018’s Madame, Holy Lands is about ideological conflict, but filtered through personal relationships. Caan plays Harry, a belligerent cardiologist who moves to Israel to work as a pig-farmer. Tom Hollander plays rabbi Moshe who lives next door, and tries to dissuade Harry from his calling for obvious reasons. Roseanna Arquette plays Monica, his ex-wife who is suffering from a serious illness, while their son (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is a gay Broadway director struggling to find himself, not helped by critics sleeping though his plays and then filing negative reviews. If the strands don’t all connect, that’s no great problem; whenever Caan and Hollander are on-screen, they show a great chemistry, ideal for the philosophical ruminations of the script. And if Hollander is terrific in an un-showy role, Caan is even better, as he plays,  in a signature role that reaches back to his iconic work in the 70’s, a troubled man who stubbornly refuses to accept his place in life.


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