By Serena Curry
Manito revolves around two brothers at crucial points in their lives. Manny (Manito) is graduating high school with a full scholarship to Syracuse, while Junior is an ex-con attempting to live a normal life. The film follows them through Manny’s graduation day and is a gritty look at life that is sometimes hard to watch due to its stark realness.
A thick slice of Latino culture, Manito’s presentation makes you feel as though you are a part of the story, not just an observer. A sense of foreboding surrounds each scene but there is also a sense of helplessness as you watch people living out situations that seem predetermined. The characters are victims of their environment and are powerless against it.
The slow pace of the movie only exaggerates the futility. There is not a lot of action because a large part of the film follows the characters as they go through their day. Ironically, instead of creating sympathy towards the characters, especially the two brothers, this method makes them seem as though they are just another two in a sea of faces.
Another aspect that affects sympathy toward the characters is that they are not-so-nice people doing not-so-nice things. Good things don’t happen to people in this film–in fact, there are very few positive moments in Manito.
There are aspects about Manito which deserve credit, however. The acting is so intense that it is possible to forget you are even watching a movie. It’s easy to be drawn into the lives of the characters–it’s like watching a depressing reality tv show. Overall, Manito is about raw, dirty and depressing lives, and watching it makes you feel the exact same way.
Part of the American Independent category, this film plays Oct. 6 at 9:00 p.m. at the Plaza Theatre.