Menashe | Chicago Reader

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Rated PG · 82 minutes · 2017

Comedy drama
This muted drama about New York City's Hasidic Jewish community is the narrative-feature debut for documentary maker Joshua Z. Weinstein; consequently the film often feels like a direct-cinema documentary, immersing viewers in the environment through fly-on-the-wall camerawork and naturalistic performances. (Adding to the verisimilitude, nearly all of the dialogue is in Yiddish.) The title character is a ne'er-do-well widower whose only source of happiness is his relationship with his young son. Since traditional Jewish law requires children to grow up in two-parent households, Menashe faces a dilemma: either he remarries (which he doesn't really want to do) or he sends his son to live with spiteful, humorless relatives. Weinstein stages much of the action in cramped interiors, which emphasizes the insular nature of a community where everyone knows everyone else's business. In English and subtitled Yiddish.
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Director: Joshua Weinstein
Producer: Yoni Brook, Traci Carlson, Daniel Finkelman, Alex Lipschultz, Joshua Weinstein, Chris Columbus, Eleanor Columbus, Danelle Eliav and Adam Margules
Cast: Menashe Lustig and Yoel Falkowitz

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