Year:  2017

Director:  Joshua Z. Weinstein

Rated:  PG

Release:  February 8, 2018

Distributor: Rialto

Running time: 82 minutes

Worth: $12.50
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Menashe Lustig, Yoel Falkowitz, Ruben Niborski

...a (small) window into traditional Jewish customs, social gatherings...

This film is set in Brooklyn, New York, but it’s almost entirely in Yiddish rather than English, because it’s about a community of ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jews.

The central character, Menashe (Menashe Lustig), is a widower of one year. He’s under great pressure to find a new wife, and though he’s not keen on the idea it would be in his own best interests. That’s because the rabbis – sticklers for Talmudic convention that they are – insist that his son may not return to live with him until he remarries.

Not that this, or any of Menashe’s other travails (such as financial ones), make him an entirely sympathetic character. He’s his own worst enemy in some ways, and the kind of hapless fool who follows up crashing a work van by immediately asking his boss for a loan. The scenes in which he tries to build a bond with his son verge on the schmaltzy, and are not the most convincing.

Menashe Lustig’s performance here is strong, in a subtly understated way, and there are a few – but very few – mildly emotionally resonant scenes. The use of (instrumental) klezmer music on the soundtrack is pleasurable too. But that’s about it really. Menashe is believable enough for the most part, and something of a (small) window into traditional Jewish customs, social gatherings and the like. It’s a pretty simple story – and that can be a very good thing. Unfortunately, in this case it’s just a rather dull one.



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