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Review: Yiddish-language drama Menashe is the opposite of shmaltzy

Menashe Lustig and Ruben Niborski in the film Menashe.

Federica Valabrega/Wehkamp Photography courtesy of Mongrel Media

3 out of 4 stars

Title
Menashe
Written by
Joshua Weinstein, Musa Syeed, Alex Lipschultz
Directed by
Joshua Z Weinstein
Starring
Menashe Lustig
Genre
Drama
Classification
PG
Country
USA
Language
Yiddish, English
Year
2017

The news behind the understated drama Menashe is that it's a rare thing, a film performed in Yiddish, covertly shot in Brooklyn's guarded Hasidic community.

The appeal, though, is that nothing is lost in translation: A soulful schmo is played by Menashe Lustig, a YouTube comedian who is 100-per-cent relatable as a hapless, sombre widower and struggling single father to his young son. He's a Rodney Dangerfield, an Eeyore in a Borsalino hat.

His community dictates that without a good wife and nice dishes, he can not properly raise his son as a proper Hasid. He's in a danger of losing his boy; he needs to get it together. Delicately woven and sensitively told, director-writer Joshua Z Weinstein's ode to a shlemiel rings true.

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