(director/writer: Joshua Z. Weinstein; screenwriter: Musa Syeed/Alex Lipschultz; cinematographer: Yoni Brook; editor: Scott Cummings; music: Aaron Martin/Dag Rosenqvist; cast: Menasha Lustig (Menashe), Yoel Falkowitz (Fischel), Hershy Fishman (Zalman), Ruben Niborsk (Rieven – Menashe’s son), Meyer Schwartz (Rabbi), Yoel Weisshaus (Eizik), Ariel Vaysman (Levi); Runtime: 81; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Alex Lipschultz, Traci Carlson, Joshua Z Weinstein, Daniel Finkelman, Yoni Brook; A24; 2017-in Yiddish-with English and Spanish, and with English subtitles if needed)
“An engaging family drama, performed entirely in Yiddish and set within Brooklyn’s ultra-orthodox Jewish community of Borough Park.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
DocumentarianJoshua Z. Weinstein (“Flying on One Engine”/”I Beat Mike Tyson”), with no ties to the Hasidim community, fluently directs and co-writes with Musa Syeed and Alex Lipschultz an engaging family drama, performed entirely in Yiddish and set within Brooklyn’s ultra-orthodox Jewish community of Borough Park.
It’s loosely based on Menashe Lustif’s real life, who has become known as a Yiddish comedian on YouTube.The middle-aged, luckless (schlimazel), obese and klutzy recent Jewish widower (Menashe Lustig), an underpaid clerk in a kosher grocery store, has lost custody of his beloved young son, Rieven (Ruben Niborski), as the rigid Hasidic law doesn’t allow for a child to be raised in a single home.
So an arrangement is made with Menashe’s well-off married brother-in-law, Eizik (Yoel Weisshaus), to become the guardian.
The rabbi (Meyer Schwartz) encourages him to marry again, but Menashe refuses.
It works well as a pleasant character study of a likable rebellious religious man, whose plight can be universally understood even in its religious trappings and even if told in Yiddish. Of note, most of the actors are Hasidic and it was filmed on location.
REVIEWED ON 3/27/2018 GRADE: B+ https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/