So in a season where we have have presented some unique and original movies, we have yet one more movie that is a distinct, one-of-a-kind representation of a unique community with universally relatable themes. The all-yiddish film, shot entirely on location within a New York Jewish community, tells the story of widower Menashe who is struggling to cope with the loss of his wife and his unfulfilling job at a local grocery store. Complicating matters is the rules of this religious community allow for Menashe’s son to be taken away and placed in a home where he would have a mother. Much like ‘The Big Sick’ or ‘The Other Side Of Hope’, Menashe brings relatabilty by focusing on the struggles of one individual within their larger world, showing again that emotions, feelings, and struggles are all part of humanity no matter where we come from.
Also interesting about this movie is that the film stars many members of this community who had never even seen a movie, much less acted in one. Filmed surreptiously as much as possible over the course of two years, the crew had to deal with losing actors and locations over the fear that they would face negative repercusssions. Yet still the authenticy and enthusiasm of this approach comes through on screen, especially with the portrayal of the joy and life that comes from Menashe trying to connect with his son over the week that he tries to prove to the rabbi he can be a capable single father.
Menashe shows the struggle of one person trying to cope with day to day living during one of the worst periods of his life. I can certainly relate to that. It exposes that anyone can be inept sometimes and othertimes unlucky and still have to find a way to get through the day. Based loosely on lead actor Menashe Lustig’s own experiences (much like ‘The Big Sick’), Menashe reveals a genuine and sincere story of love, family and compassion.
You can see “Menashe” as part of the Red Deer Museum & Art Gallery’s Reel Movie Mondays Fall 2017 season, screening Monday Nov. 27th at 7 p.m. at Carnival Cinemas in downtown Red Deer.
You can watch a interview with some of the cast and crew on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcIiVU3xQww
Until then, save me an aisle seat!