Within Brooklyn’s ultra-orthodox Jewish community, a widower battles for custody of his son. A tender drama performed entirely in Yiddish, the film intimately explores the nature of faith and the price of parenthood.
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Joshua Weinstein (no relation to Harvey) has made a delightfully humane film, entirely in Yiddish, of the ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jew community in Brooklyn, NY. As a counterpoint to perfectly decent liberal Jewish representatives in MSM, it's refreshing to gain a clearer perspective on the lives of devout believers. It's the mundane realism of this tale which makes it so engaging. A compelling spectating experience.
It's odd to complain that something so concerned with insularity is too singular. Insularity of community, and of one member against that community. And perhaps my outsider's perspective prevented me seeing how Menashe was both rebel and "extremist". Observations that left me alienated, perhaps purposefully, against the inept Menashe. But, appreciate the lack of message.
Spoiler alert. What I liked about this film is that it didn't follow a typical Hollywood trajectory wherein Menashe would have become independent and "escaped" with his son as if that would be a good thing. It also didn't portray Menashe as perfect. In the situation laid out before us I think Menashe did the reasonable and sensible thing. Also I liked how we get to see the everyday life of the New York Hasidic people
A small film even by small film standards but its scope perfectly fits the scale of the story of a man trying to navigate between his personal desires, his commitment to his traditions, and his responsibility to his family. I could have added an extra star just for the delicate performances and the chemistry between the father (Lustig) and son (Niborski).