James' Journey to Jerusalem It would be only a slight exaggeration to say that James' Journey to Jerusalem is the tale of a happy slave. Gangly, with a crown… James' Journey to Jerusalem It would be only a slight exaggeration to say that James' Journey to Jerusalem is the tale of a happy slave. Gangly, with a crown… 2004-03-05 Unrated PT87M Drama Salim Daw Siyabonga Melongisi Shibe Zeitgeist Films
Movie Review

James' Journey to Jerusalem (2004)

MPAA Rating: Unrated
James' Journey to Jerusalem | 'JOURNEY' INTO HECK A modern slave tale gets disturbingly soft treatment
'JOURNEY' INTO HECK A modern slave tale gets disturbingly soft treatment
EW's GRADE
D

Details Limited Release: Mar 05, 2004; Rated: Unrated; Length: 87 Minutes; Genre: Drama; With: Salim Daw and Siyabonga Melongisi Shibe; Distributor: Zeitgeist Films

It would be only a slight exaggeration to say that James' Journey to Jerusalem is the tale of a happy slave. Gangly, with a crown of braids and a smile so pretty it makes him look like a 15-year-old girl, James (Siyabonga Melongisi Shibe), a young African, arrives in Tel Aviv on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Jailed by immigration authorities, he is bailed out by Shimi (Salim Daw), a shady Jewish businessman who seizes James' passport and coerces him into his stable of mostly African workers, a lowly bunch who sleep on bare cots and aren't even allowed to watch TV without paying a surcharge.

You'd think that the film would ask you to be appalled at this scenario of forced servitude -- but no, it's treated as harmless and cute, like an Israeli ''Chico and the Man.'' The director, Ra'anan Alexandrowicz, is never happier than when he can execute a montage of James cleaning and hauling boxes, all set to jaunty African music. But then James, all of a sudden, adopts the penny-pinching, exploitative tactics of his employers. I guess this makes the film a bargain: It offers two atrocious ethnic stereotypes for the price of one.

Originally posted Feb 20, 2004 Published in issue #755 Mar 12, 2004 Order article reprints
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