M enashe is the name of the lead character from whom this fine movie takes its name. And what a great movie it turned out to be, from the opening song and first scene, throughout the entire movie to the neat ending. It takes the spectator to a world open only to a few and from a very particular point of view; that of a chubby plain man called Menashe (Menashe Lustig), who has recently widowed and is struggling to get back to his feet. Joshua Weinstein was the man in charge of directing the film and let me tell you that he did a great job portraying his vast experience in documentary films through Menashe.
Given to the traditions and way of life of the Jewish Hasidic community, one could think that this movie is only for a very specific audience. Nevertheless, I started to relate with Menashe in so many levels that I was immediately hooked to the movie. It could be how the director Joshua Weinstein presents it and his documentary filming style but the movie has so many things to offer that you cannot only praise one component. For example, the soundtracks are absolutely exquisite, starting off with an amazing violin and delighting the audience during the whole movie. The performances were very good, despite the fact the actors were all amateur and Ruben Niborski deserves a special mention due to his excellent performance as Rieven.
The story is about Menashe, a Jewish Hasidic clerk whose life is a fast spinning mess and on top of that, he is a widower struggling to earn his son’s custody because Hasidic tradition dictates that a child must be raised by a man and a woman. The young and promising child actor Ruben Niborski portrays Menashe’s son, Rieven, who loves his father dearly but knows that he struggles extra hard to keep up. Rieven is Menashe’s dearest treasure and his sole inspiration, he is the reason why he gets up every day to earn his daily bread at a job that squeezes his energy and time.
But as every man and woman has to, Menashe has many obstacles to overcome in order to be considered a fit father in the eyes of the Hasidic community and his Rabbi The Ruv (Meyer Schwartz). His brother-in-law Eizik (Yoel Weisshaus) is in charge of his son Rieven until Menashe re-marries and is able to raise his son next to a woman. Besides his late wife’s brother and the community Rabbi, Menashe struggle with a dead end job at a score, which barely leaves him something to stay afloat and takes all his energy. However, Menashe is a kind-hearted man and he is also devoted to his Jewish traditions and he is a good father to his son, in a very clumsy way but he manages.
A heart-warming classic that many can relate to because it portrays everyday struggles that many of us have to face in our lives. Brilliantly presented by documentary films expert Joshua Weinstein, especially trough the tight camera shots that make you feel right there, next to Menashe inside the Hasidic community. Alongside the great music and performances, the photography is amazing, and the most important trait about this movie is that it has soul, which makes it very real.