It would be hard to think of a worse idea than casting Melanie Griffith, with her soft-as-down little-girl voice, as a jaded New York homicide cop. Here’s one, though: casting her as a jaded New York homicide cop who goes undercover in the Brooklyn Hasidic community, where she learns that Jews Are People Too. A Stranger Among Us was obviously modeled on another modern thriller about an anachronistic religious sect (can’t you just hear the pitch meeting? — ”It’s Witness with matzoh balls!”). But the director, Sidney Lumet (Serpico, Q&A), fails to work up his usual cop-movie excitement, and the Hasidim aren’t drawn with any emotional complexity. Griffith spends most of the time trying to seduce a sexy young Hasid who is described as being a ”Mozart” of Jewish learning. Sorry, but as played by the placidly appealing Eric Thal, he seems more like the Rob Lowe of Jewish learning. C

A Stranger Among Us
  • Movie
  • 110 minutes