Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Joshua Z. Weinstein|
|Edited by||Scott Cummings|
|Box office||$1.7 million|
Menashe (Yiddish: מנשה) is a 2017 Yiddish-language American drama film directed by Joshua Z. Weinstein. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2017, where it was acquired by A24 for U.S. distribution. The film was released in the United States on July 28, 2017.
Menashe (Menashe Lustig), a recently widowed Hasidic Jewish man, tries to regain custody of his ten-year-old son Rieven (Ruben Niborski). Rieven is living with his aunt and uncle (Eizik, Yoel Weisshaus) per a ruling by the Rabbi (Meyer Schwartz) that Menashe must first remarry to provide a proper home for his son. Menashe's first marriage was unhappy, and he is reluctant to wed again. He works as a clerk in a grocery store with a difficult manager, and has a hard time earning enough money for himself. He doesn't wear the traditional black coat and top hat in public, though his son tells him he would look nice in one. Eizik, his successful brother-in-law, looks down on him. They argue in front of the Rabbi, who lets Rieven stay with Menashe for a week, until the upcoming memorial service for his wife, but reiterates the requirement for a two-parent home. Eizik wants the memorial meal in his finer home, but Menashe insists on having it in his shabby apartment. Getting a "bachelor-proof" recipe for kugel from a neighbor, Menashe puts the pan in the oven before going to the cemetery for the service. He and the participants, including the Rabbi, return to an apartment full of smoke. Eizik criticizes the burnt kugel, but the Rabbi praises it and insists the uncle eat a piece. Menashe begs Eizik to let Rieven live with him, but is told he must first find a wife. Menashe says he will see the matchmaker again. He goes to the ritual bath (mikvah), and dons a coat and top hat.
The plot of Menashe is loosely based on Lustig's life. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times he said that "unlike Menashe in the film, I'm not a schlimazel by nature. Maybe just a schlimazel by situation."
Customs and religious practices depicted include:
- a Lag BaOmer bonfire
- studying texts in the beth midrash
- a Farbrengen (celebratory gathering)
- Negel vasser - morning ritual, bedside hand washing.
- wearing the tallit katan undergarment
- wearing the rekel overcoat
- Mikvah, immersion in a ritual bath
The film was shot over the course of two years in Borough Park, Brooklyn, home to one of the largest Orthodox Jewish populations outside of Israel, a decision that Weinstein has said was motivated by a desire for authenticity. In an interview before the film's Sundance premiere, he said, "When I thought about making a film in Borough Park, in Yiddish, with real Hasidic Jews, to me, it was just as interesting as any documentary I ever made."
- Menashe Lustig as Menashe
- Ruben Niborski as Rieven
- Yoel Weisshaus as Eizik
- Meyer Schwartz as Rabbi
The film premiered on January 23, 2017, at the Sundance Film Festival. A trailer was released on April 19, featuring the song "Pashut" by Zusha. The film was released only on Blu-ray in the United States by A24, rather than Lions Gate, who usually handles their home entertainment distribution. The Blu-ray is available for purchase on Amazon.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 97% based on 102 reviews, with an average rating of 7.6/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Menashe offers an intriguing look at a culture whose unfamiliarity to many viewers will be rendered irrelevant by the story's universally affecting themes and thoughtful approach." On Metacritic the film has a score of 81 out of 100, based on 25 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient(s) and nominee(s)||Result||Ref.|
|Gotham Independent Film Awards||November 27, 2017||Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award||Joshua Z. Weinstein||Nominated|||
|Deauville American Film Festival||September 2017||Prix du Jury||Joshua Z. Weinstein||Tied|||
|Independent Spirit Awards||March 3, 2018||Best First Feature||Menashe||Nominated|||
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- Winfrey, Graham; Winfrey, Graham (2017-01-31). "A24 Acquires Sundance Drama 'Menashe' in First Foreign-Language Buy". IndieWire. Retrieved 2017-03-16.
- Zeitchik, Steven (2017-01-18). "How did a Sundance filmmaker shoot a scripted movie in the insulated world of New York's Hasidim?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2017-03-16.
- Kohn, Eric. "'Menashe' Review: A Stirring Hasidic Drama From Joshua Z. Weinstein | IndieWire". IndieWire. Retrieved 2017-03-16.
- sff (2017-01-10). "Meet the Artist '17: Joshua Weinstein". Retrieved 2017-03-16.
- "Our song "Pashut" featured in A24's newly released..." Facebook. April 19, 2017. Retrieved 22 April 2017.
- "Menashe (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved May 14, 2018.
- "Menashe Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 7, 2017.
- Erbland, Kate (19 October 2017). "'Get Out' Leads 2017 Gotham Awards Nominations". IndieWire. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
- Lewis, Hilary (November 21, 2017). "2018 Independent Spirit Award Nominations Revealed". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 21, 2017.