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Menashe

The issues of loneliness and family strife are all too universal

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Joshua Weinstein directs this gentle dramedy set in Borough Park, Brooklyn, within an insular Hasidic community. Menashe (Menashe Lustig), whose wife died a year ago, plods through his life, somewhat unsatisfied. He has a tiresome job as a supermarket cashier, suffers the contempt of his in-laws, and is resisting various matchmaking efforts. Worst of all, he no longer has custody of his sweet teenage son, Rieven (Ruben Niborski), who, under religious law, cannot live in a single-parent household; Rieven is under the care of Menashe’s brother-in-law. Menashe is torn — though an observant Jew, he balks at some of the strictures; why can’t his boy live with him, or get ice cream? It also doesn’t help that Menashe is a bit of a mess, prone to clumsiness and not as neatly dressed as he should be. But he misses his boy: Should he compromise, and accept the dictates of the community over his cautious toe-dips into individuality? There is not much more plot than that, but the nonactors Weinstein employs are warm and engaging. They inhabit a world that is in many ways quite different from modern secular life in New York City, but the issues of loneliness and family strife are all too universal. 





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