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He gets drunk on a night out with his son, oversleeps, then gives Rieven Coke and cake for breakfast.
The resulting dialogue comes across as refreshingly unpolished—the English subtitles rightly read like a translation, not like a superior original.Weinstein, whose background is in documentary, is interested in life as it is, not in life as it should be.(Nor is he interested in bogging down his story with explication: we watch Menashe and his neighbors feed a growing conflagration with no commentary on its being Lag Ba Omer, a holiday celebrated by lighting bonfires.) Despite Menashe’s small rebellions—his informal attire, his refusal to remarry—there is no question of his leaving the confines of his religion, no matter how unfair its rabbinical edicts.How insular a community is may be measured by its share of members who wish to appear on camera.When a casting call went out to New York’s ultra-Orthodox community, which numbers in the hundreds of thousands, to appear in Menashe, a feature film set in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, only sixty people showed up. Weinstein, the film’s director, told an interviewer.
Whether or not Menashe gets to raise his son, the film makes clear, he will remain within the rigid boundaries of Borough Park—home to one of the largest Hasidic communities outside Israel.