A young widower struggles to appease Orthodox tradition and raise his son without a mother in this touching and funny observational drama, shot in Yiddish in a camera-shy Hassidic neighbourhood in Brooklyn.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2017
Joshua Z. Weinstein’s charming Menashe immerses us in a Hassidic neighbourhood in Brooklyn, a community not given to self-exposure. His film tells the touching story of a young widower struggling against the Orthodox requirement that his son be raised in a household with a mother.
“In a world apart, the recently widowed Menashe (a wonderful Menashe Lustig) is anxiously trying to get his only child back home to live with him. His family, friends and rabbi in his tight-knit Orthodox community want Menashe to remarry first, but that sits uneasily with this quietly stubborn, independent soul. As the story opens gracefully, Menashe’s struggle to balance his Orthodox religion and his own desire builds into a gentle human comedy.
The director Joshua Z. Weinstein, a cinematographer and documentarian making a seamless transition to fiction, shot Menashe entirely in Yiddish in Borough Park, Brooklyn. He has an eye for the fine-grained textures of everyday life that draw you into this cloistered world and close to Menashe, a character partly inspired by Mr Lustig’s own life.” — Manohla Dargis, NY Times