Dir. Marc Isaacs - 70min - 2005 - UK
Is it possible to live like an Old Testament king in suburban Hove? Well, that's what Philip Sharp is attempting to do. Formerly a rabbi, with a sister who is a hairdresser in Golders Green, Phillip has lighted out into the sacred wilderness.
It transpires that there is nothing illegal about having seven wives. You can't marry them by means of a civil service but it is possible to entertain their presence, behave as if they were your wives and, indeed, make due provision for them all if you are run over by a bus. Apart from the life of a Jewish patriarch, Philip owns four second-hand furniture shops and has one other hobby - breeding stallions from Belgium.
This is a deeply disturbing film in places because the filmmaker sustains his own ambivalence towards Philip and his activities. You are never quite sure whether to applaud Philip for his unusual lifestyle or think that he is a predator who benefits from the insecurities of the women around him. On balance, I'd say Philip does make his strange arrangement work to everyone's advantage, but many will strongly disagree. You'll have to see the film to make up your own mind.
Nick Fraser - Former Storyville Series Editor