At his grandmother's request, callow 19-year-old Daniel (Ash Newman, a poor man's Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) travels from London to the Jewish quarters of Paris, Berlin, Prague, Budapest, and Belgrade to search for her father's gravelost to time or to the Holocaust, if it exists at all. Along the way, night train hookups and bisexual disco dancing give way to a more secure sense of selfhood, and Daniel's hesitance at reciting the Shema blooms into a vague, unstated respect for his religion and its adherents. (Local color and half-baked metaphor, Kafka's grave presents itself.) The title means "name" in Hebrew, but wherever he goes, Daniel inexplicably opts for aliasesdespite the fact that a name may be all his great-grandfather left behind. Arrhythmic and personal, Shem finally amounts to an earnest travelogue, strung together by solemn insinuations about history, class, and the nature of identity.
Get the Film & TV Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.
More Film News
- Scott Adkins Plays a Badass Actually Named ‘Colt McReady’ In the Effective ‘Close Range’
- Meet the Pole Who Tried to Warn the World About the Holocaust in ‘Karski & the Lords...
- Jane Fonda Faced Down the Seventies and a Killer in Pakula’s Masterful ‘Klute’
- He’ll Get Your Head Shaking: Surveying the Start of Chung Mong-hong’s (Likely) Great...