Fifteen years ago, their Washington Heights neighborhood was dubbed the crack-cocaine capital of the world, but today it is transforming into one of the most vibrant, Spanish-speaking ... See full summary »
Fifteen years ago, their Washington Heights neighborhood was dubbed the crack-cocaine capital of the world, but today it is transforming into one of the most vibrant, Spanish-speaking communities in the United States. While the drug dealers continue to disappear, their violent legacy still casts a shadow over the neighborhood and its residents. Junior, an ex-convict struggling to get his life back on track, is a product of this legacy. His younger brother Manny, the salutatorian of his high school class, embodies the hope of the future. On the night of his graduation party, Manny finds himself faced with an ill-fated decision that could change his life forever. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
MANITO is a fine little independent film that does what few of the big movies have tried: the manner of shooting an intimate family film set in the ghetto atmosphere with a hand held camera gives it the immediacy and grit of the story far better than the expensive multicamera shoots of other similar tales with big budgets. Writer/director Eric Eason succeeds in inviting us, the outsiders as audience, to witness the machinations of a family at war with itself as though we were in the hall, at the window, or behind the wall. The result is a powerful, unpretentious little film with clout.
Manito (Leo Minaya) is the younger brother of Junior (Frankie G) who has succeeded in school and in social life in a way that eluded Junior. Junior is an ex-con (we learn later how unjust that title is) who is basically a ne'er-do-well womanizer, but still works hard to make a living for his wife and child. When Manito (or Manny) wins a scholarship on graduation, Junior is bound to celebrate his love for his little brother and his pride in Manny's achievements with a big party. The father of the boys is the poison that drives the potential celebration into a disaster in a manner that summarizes all that is evil in the environment in which the brothers have survived. The story ends in a tenor that leaves as many questions unanswered as it does in finalizing the tale.
Franky G is the only known actor among this talented but inexperienced cast. And despite the many small roles he has had serving as eye candy (and justly deserved!) for big movies, here he proves that he can indeed inhabit a role and give us a character who, despite his antisocial behavioral aspects, is a man we grow to love. The entire cast engages our attention as a verismo experience and witnessing the trials and smiles of this family sheds a warmer light on the Hispanic than most of the big movies afford. We doubtless - and hopefully - will be hearing and seeing more from Eric Eason. Grady Harp
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?