Prayer Focus
Movie Review

A Stranger Among Us

Reviewed by: Brett Willis
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Crime Romance Drama
Length:
1 hr. 50 min.
Year of Release:
1992
USA Release:
July 17, 1992
Copyright, Buena Vista Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Buena Vista Pictures

Starring: Melanie Griffith, Eric Thal, John Pankow, Tracy Pollan, Lee Richardson, Mia Sara, Jamey Sheridan, Jake Weber | Director: Sidney Lumet | Writer: Robert J. Avrech

“A Stranger Among Us” is really two films in one. On one level, it’s a typical “whodunit” cop story. On another, it’s a showcase for Hasidic Judaism.

When a Hasidic jeweler in New York’s diamond district is murdered and a large amount of diamonds is stolen in an apparent “inside job,” detective Emily Eden (Melanie Griffith) persuades the Hasidic community to let her go undercover as a recent convert or “one who has returned,” in order to catch the killer. The tightly-knit, family-oriented life of the Hasidic community is favorably contrasted with the coldness of the outside world. Many beliefs and customs (the traditions of the Oral Law, and even the Kabala) are explained for Emily’s benefit (and ours). Remember that there’s a strong Jewish presence in the positions of power in Hollywood; Christian groups with a distinctive subculture usually don’t get this kind of sympathetic treatment in movies.

There’s no sexual content; some profanity and violence, as would be expected in a PG-13 police drama. The center focus of the film is the relationship that develops between Emily and the Rebbe’s son Ariel (Eric Thal)—a romance that must remain just a respectful friendship because of religious and cultural differences.

Viewer Comments
Comments from young people
This is one of the best movies I have seen in a while. The ending is rather disappointing because she doesn’t end up with the guy you wanted her to, but it is cute nonetheless. But, even though it is massively mild compared to today’s movies—there wasn’t sex scenes, there was a LITTLE bit of dialogue, not dialogue just kind of like innuendo. But, nonetheless, I think this movie deserved a PG, not a PG-13.
—Vanesa, age 15