A French director, Yolande Zauberman, tries to expose sexual abuse from the perspective of the victim. He explores it in the middle of the ultra-Orthodox Jews community. “M” might be a confusing title. When you think about the title, people would answer if they are talking about the Fritz Lang one. But, this documentary takes the title either from the victim’s name or the raper. It’s a documentary, an outrage doc and aesthetic well-shot entirely at night. There is no daylight or else except in the final sequence when the protagonist takes its redemption and his past.
Menachem Lang is an actor whose victim of raped when he was a child. He was growing up in Bneï Brek, Israel. The film explores Lang’s point of view in his reaction as a victim of sexual abuse. Most of the sequence consist he met with other victims and shared experiences and stories. In the meantime, Lang met a difficult decision when his religion and sects tried to isolate him. A documentary like this is indeed very sensitive from whatever point of view.
Lang has a beautiful voice where he uses his voice as a sign of his pride in his community. In this journey, Lang tries to confront all the men who were also his abusers from the past. He met his abuser when he was 4-year-old to his struggle to find freedom and acceptable in his community. Lang tried to question whether the trauma was nothing more than trauma or whether he enjoyed it. One of the Rabbi asked him why he resigned when the abuser raped him. However, Lang said that his soul and his body didn’t belong just to himself or even God.
Lang has complex conflicts when it comes to family. He hadn’t met his parents for 15 years and never talked to his other brothers. Not to mention, he still hasn’t forgotten how one of the abusers didn’t dare to meet with him. Zauberman and Lang often confronted other victims as well. There are many revelations from various points of view too. The fact that these men dare to open their voices and their past needs struggle. It needs depth of heart to convey it. These men are devastating to solve the problem of the complexity of sex and power. Not to mention, they have to deal with their respective religions. It’s so jarring yet very personal!
“M” is the second film in the Yiddish language by Zauberman after “Ivan & Abraham”. Previously, she directed another compelling documentary titled “Would You Have Sex with an Arabic?” which is also the same as this documentary. For a documentary, this is a well-crafted and well-searched documentary. You have to gather various information up to the smallest detail. It reminds me of how Joshua Oppenheimer tried to confront the man responsible for the mass killing. Indeed, Zauberman tried to keep her distance from the theme. As not to reveal how this is a manipulative and exploitative documentary, that’s not the point. This is a compelling, personal, and breathtaking documentary.
Zauberman tries to manage this documentary so that there aren’t any flaws. A lot of sensitive themes also exist in this film. The first sequence when Lang admitted that he preferred trans women than women, in general, is mindblowing. “M” is a knife, a statement from the director herself. Rather than the Fritz Lang thriller one about a child murderer, Menachem Lang invites you into his mind. He invites you to his feeling about how he struggles and gains recognition for his community.
4 out of 5 stars.