HOLLYSHORTS 2020 FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW! Talia Osteen showcases impressive filmmaking skills with her debut short film, the slight-but-charming The Shabbos Goy. Within a tight seven minutes, she conveys a palpable love for the Jewish culture while also poking fun at the impositions that a religion may present. It may not be groundbreaking visually or concept-wise, but its succinctness, sharp comedic timing, and a charming lead compensate for the lack of novelty.
Shabbos Goy means both “a non-Jew who performs certain tasks which religious law prohibits a Jew from doing on the Sabbath” and “a human loophole.” Hannah (Milana Vayntrub), who’s about to get married, finds herself in desperate need of said “non-Jew” on the Sabbath to help her shut down an electrical device (you’re forbidden to turn the electricity on or off on that sacred day of rest and worship). She chases down Davian (Devere Rogers) on the street, makes sure he’s a Gentile, then brings him back to her house.
“…finds herself in a desperate need of said ‘non-Jew’ on the Sabbath, to help her shut down an electrical device…”
“Time to be fruitful and multiply,” a woman tells Hannah early on. Osteen reveals the pressure one can feel in a devoutly religious family, from substantial things like marriage and giving birth to the minute details – such as the film’s central, chuckle-inducing dilemma. The director has a light, graceful touch regarding framing and music (she wrote the score). Vayntrub knocks it out of the park as the mishap hero of this little cinematic confection. Paul Feig is the film’s executive producer, and his trademark blend of poignancy and comedy is evident.
The Shabbos Goy made me want to get to know its characters more and join them in their shenanigans. Here’s hoping Osteen gets to demonstrate her knack for turning the seemingly mundane into something eminently delightful in a full-length feature soon.
The Shabbos Goy screened at the 2020 Hollyshorts Film Festival.
"…sharp comedic timing, and a charming lead compensate for a lack of novelty"