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A Stranger Among Us

1992

PG-13 CC

A tough, female New York City cop is forced to go undercover to solve a puzzling murder, and her search for the truth takes her into a secret world of unwritten law and unspoken power.

Starring:
Melanie Griffith, Eric Thal
Runtime:
1 hour, 49 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Romance
Director Sidney Lumet
Starring Melanie Griffith, Eric Thal
Supporting actors John Pankow, Tracy Pollan, Lee Richardson, Mia Sara, Jamey Sheridan, Jake Weber, Ro'ee Levi, David Rosenbaum, Ruth Vool, David Margulies, Edward Rogers III, Maurice Schell, James Gandolfini, Chris Latta, Burtt Harris, Ira Rubin, Françoise Granville, Rena Sofer
Studio Hollywood Pictures
MPAA rating PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rabbi Yonassan Gershom VINE VOICE on October 24, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
OK, so it's not the best film in terms of police procedurals -- if you are looking for a hard-core crime drama, this isn't it. This movie was a spin-off from "Witness," which took place in the Amish community, and, like "Witness," the real value of "Stranger" is in the multi-cultural details and dialogue. The murder mystery is just a formula plot for presenting an introduction to Hasidic culture. Viewed as such, the film can be a useful teaching tool, and that's why I've been recommending it on my website's Hasidism FAQ. I myself use it in social studies classes here in rural Minnesota, where most of the students have never met any Jews at all, let alone Hasidim.
Now granted, there are some things in the film that are pure Hollywood, such as the little book referred to as "The Kabbalah" that reads like a sex manual. In real life, "kabbalah" is a collective term referring to Jewish mysticism. There is no one book called "The Kabbalah" any more than there is any one book called "The Zen." Although some kabbalstic texts do contain certain sexual imagery, the stuff that Ariel reads to Emily in the film is more like erotic love poetry. This serves a purpose in the story, but it's not Jewishly accurate, and for that, I'm docking it a star. On the other hand, the film does address some of the negative stereotypes about Hasidim, such as that ridiculous urban legend about the hole in the sheet. (NOT!)
The real "kabbalah" of the film is in the message about finding one's soulmate. In the beginning of the film, Ariel reads a line from his kabbalah book: "God counts the tears of women." He has no idea what this means, it's just words. Later, at the end of the movie, Ariel's Hasidic bride-to-be quotes this same line back to him.
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By A Customer on June 6, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
I picked this up on the recommendation of a friend. I really enjoyed it. I thought the presentation of the Hasidic community was well done and respectful...and added to the story. Even though the critics panned it, I thought Melanie was fine. A good Friday night stay-at-home-with-a-tub-of-buttered-popcorn movie.
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Format: DVD
This is an interesting film, especially for a cop flick, because it is more character-based than stereotypical Hollywood (car chases, gratuitous violence and shooting, big muscles, etc). And the role of Emily is a perfect multidimensional character-centered role. Not something you saw a lot of in mainstream Hollywood flicks prior to about the mid-1990's. However, Melanie Griffith is not appropriate for such a role. A fluffy comedic actor like Griffith only makes such a role appear melodramatic and overbearing. It's like using a meat cleaver to perform intricate brain surgery. This is not to say that Griffith is a bad actor (at least not for fluffy comedy), or that she couldn't master the subtlies of this type of acting some day; after all, look what Sylvester Stallone did in Cop Land (and if he can do it, anyone can do it). But she obviously failed in her role in this film.

The rest of the characters are also compellingly multidimensional, except, oddly enough, for who turns out to be the murderer.

I liked the film's positive multicultural flavor; what I also liked about the film was that it was made around the time that Hollywood started tayloring film's endings based on preferences of test audiences (around 1992), but this film's ending was obviously spared such a fate. The ending is cool, because it is realistic and shows Ariel's integrity--which I think was a graceful way to end things.
2 Comments 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
I found this movie beyond entertainment. I enjoyed the writing and the acting that gave us a glimpse into the lives of this young female detective who had created a hard exterior. She found herself in the midst of a society, a people whose ways caused her to soften and question many things. The audience has a chance to peek into the very heart of this Hassidic Jewish community as she investigates a disappearance of one of its members and diamonds. We not only learn about some Jewish tradion and teachings, which are most interesting and informative, but also into the lives of some police officers and even into the criminals. I found this movie not only full of drama and suspense but also humanity. I appreciated how it took us through the story with action and suspence while never losing the richness of what makes us all unique and yet all the same. One of my favorite parts is when the detective (Melanie Griffith)is ashamed when the Rebbe compares his experience in the holocaust with her own on the streets. One of my favorite quotes is "Ariel can look down at the stars." The language, the imagary, the music, the entire package of this movie makes it worth seeing. I suppose some might read my review and think "chick's flick" but it is not only that. I think this movie has something for everyone. I believe this is a movie that did not get the attention or praise it should have! I recommend it highly!
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By A Customer on May 17, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
The only reason why I am giving this movie a 4 star rating instead of five is because it was slow at times. I thought the story line and acting was great. I don't know how accurate the actual depiction of the Orthodox Jewish community was, I don't really care, because in truth that's not the focus of the movie. They explore the ideals of the community and often times dwell on their depiction of it too much, but the focus of the story was two people who are from very different worlds and have to learn to cope with love and loss. Any one with a brain knows if you want to know the truth about a culture..go and experience it yourself..don't rely on a movie. So don't get bogged down in the specifics of this or that..just take it for what it is..entertainment. It will make ya cry though..so have some tissues near by. Really good movie.
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