Put yourself in the shoes of the title character, Menashe, in this Yiddish melodrama. You work at a grocery store stocking the shelves and mopping the floors for your boss, who is quite obnoxious, when your wife passes away. You’re now a widower battling for custody of your only son, but due to your religious beliefs, you need to remarry to get him back but you aren’t ready to do that. You constantly try to do what is right but everyone looks down upon you as you fail, but you never stop trying.
Director and Co-writer Joshua Weinstein directs the film with such passion that it’s hard to not automatically fall in love with his bleak but true point of view on the predicament this man is in. You can tell that passion rubbed off on the actors he was directing as well, mainly due to how well they perform and work with each other. Newcomer Menashe Lustig gives a performance that is as heartbreaking as it is inspiring. What’s even more impressive is Ruben Niborski’s performance (who is also a new face in the world of cinema). The relationship the two have feels so genuine that you can’t help but instantly grow an emotional connection to the circumstance they are facing, causing you to root for our extremely likable and relatable (at least on one level or another) protagonist. This narrative is fit into an 82-minute runtime without feeling rushed in the slightest.
Weinstein in no way makes this film persistently bleak; there are some light comedic moments every once and awhile and the film even boasts a subtle and charming score composed by by Aaron Martin & Dag Rosenqvist. It’s almost impossible not to fall in love with the film’s simple story. Although, that does lead to the film not being very subjective in terms of feeling or thoughts on characters. Everyone is either overly-likable or overly-obnoxious – there’s no real half point for nearly every character in Menashe. Aside from that, I can’t find anything that Menashe does horribly wrong, or even any kinds of wrong! Go check this one out if it comes to a theatre near you – I promise you, you won’t regret it.