Orthodox review – a misery-inducing debut

A bare-knuckle-fighting Orthodox Jewish butcher goes to hell and back, taking us with him

Prune back the shots of hard men looking balefully into the middle distance and you’re left with the shrivelled branches of an undernourished debut feature by British actor turned director David Leon. The novelty of having an Orthodox Jewish butcher – Benjamin, played by the always interesting Stephen Graham – bobbing above the poverty line, with funds secured on the bare-knuckle boxing circuit, is swept aside in favour of a conventional and often confusing crime story whose tonal barometer has just one setting: abject misery. Michael Smiley crops up as machiavellian enforcer Shannon, who sends hapless dupe Benjamin to hell and back while in the pocket of an ominous cadre of Jewish clerics.

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