Nothing seems quite so banal as a coming-of-age film about a tortured 20-something living in Williamsburg. Make that 20-something a member of the Satmar sect of Hassidic Judaism and set the film in south Williamsburg and things get much more interesting.
Mendy: A Question of Faith follows just such a young man, Mendalle, who leaves the folds of the faith after a taboo tryst has brought shame to him and his family. Racked with guilt and reeling from the loss of his community, Mendy seeks out a childhood friend and fellow Satmar dropout, Yankel, a drug-dealing clubber who lives across the river in Manhattan. Yankel and an assorted cast of characters usher along Mendy’s transformation from sheltered, young religious zealot to introspective, accepting (and still religious) young man.
While the film relies too heavily on the drama of obvious religious taboos (Uh oh, Mendy tries marijuana! Mendy makes it with a shiksa! Mendy cuts off his peyos and tries a cheeseburger!), the telescopic view of a community that’s in our own backyard is both fascinating and humanizing.