Menashe Movie Review
Menashe (Menashe Lustig) is a middle-aged man attempting to make his way in life. But since the death of his wife a year ago, he has had some difficulties. First, his young son Rieven (Ruben Niborski) is not allowed to live with him, without the presence of a wife in the house. The local Rabbi (Meyer Schwartz) has determined that a lack of a wife is not good for Menashe and would not be good for raising Rieven. So it was determined that the son would go and live with Uncle Itzak (Yoel Weisshaus). His house has the proper environment for a young boy to be raised.
Menashe is not ready to remarry, but that seems to be the only way that he can ever get his boy back to live with him. Uncle Itzak is very stern with Rieven, but he has a household that is keep kosher by a hard-working wife. Itsak is fairly wealthy, and he looks down on his brother-in-law Menashe. Once Menashe remarries, then the Rabbi might reconsider his decision.
Menashe works at the small kosher neighborhood store. His boss is the owner, and he thinks Menashe is more trouble then he is worth. The trouble is that Menashe often proves him correct. Like the time he goes to pick up a big order of gefilte fish in the store van, and Mehashe manages to turn a corner and dump most of the boxes out into the street. Plus all the times that he gets into work late, and forgets to mop the floors, well – just say that Menashe is not the most prized employee.
The Rabbi decides that a week of Menashe taking care of his son Rieven would be okay. It will be until the one-year anniversy of the death of his wife. If Menashe can show that he is making good progress at work and taking care of Rieven, then the Rabbi will reconsider his final decision. He still wants Menashe to find a new wife, so his household wll be complete. After all, when Menashe wants to hold the memorial dinner at his little apartment, and cook the kugel for ceremony, what could go wrong? As you might suspect, everything could go wrong…
This is not a documentary movie. However the director has made these in the past, and he brings a ‘documentary’ style to this movie. The story about Menashe is played by Menashe Lustig, and his life story is the actual basis of the movie. So there is that aspect…
The acting is plain and pedestrian, since none are professional actors. All of the visual shots are either close-up faces framed in the screen view, or long telescopic shots from a distance. There is a little bit of music for a soundtrack, and it does have a Jewish melodic flavor to it. The story is nothing more than a string of small slices of Menashe’s life, showing how much of a doofus that he can be.
There is not a lot to recommend in this movie, except that the story is told in Yiddish. If you are Jewish and want to brush up on your Yiddish skills, then have at it… Even with the English subtitles, there is not a lot going on.
Directed by: Joshua Z. Weinstein
Written by: Alex Lipschultz & Musa Syeed & Joshua Z. Weinstein
Starring: Menashe Lustig
Length: 81 minutes
Genre: Yiddish drama