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Manhattan, Kansas (2006)

 -  Documentary  -  March 2006 (USA)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 44 users  
Reviews: 1 user | 5 critic

A loving daughter documents her reunion with her mentally-unstable mother in this heartfelt and decidedly personal documentary from filmmaker Tara Wray. When Wray was just a child, her ... See full summary »

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Evie Wray ...
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A loving daughter documents her reunion with her mentally-unstable mother in this heartfelt and decidedly personal documentary from filmmaker Tara Wray. When Wray was just a child, her mother was her entire life. A young girl with no father figure to speak of, Wray and her mother became so close that it was nearly impossible to distinguish where daughter ended and mother began. It was during those years, as the pair did their best to elude demons both real and imagined, that Wray first began to see signs of the powerful psychosis that would gradually cloud her mother's mind to the point of total insanity. After loving and protecting her increasingly unstable mother to the best of her abilities, Wray left home at the age of nineteen - when her mother threatened to kill her. Now, five years after that fateful threat, Wray returns to Manhattan, Kansas to re-establish her bond with her mentally disturbed mother, and perhaps help the ailing abstract artist locate the geographic center of ... Written by Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

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Documentary

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March 2006 (USA)  »

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$130,725 (estimated)
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Finally, a documentary that truly dives, headlong, into what it means to be family
8 November 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

On the surface, Tara Wray's debut documentary MANHATTAN, KANSAS appears to comment on the seemingly indefinable notion of sanity; its subject being Evie, Wray's mother, the psychological "condition" of whom remains undiagnosed. What's fascinating here is that the doc seems to suggest that this is a woman who defies diagnosis itself; Evie's erratic, yet exuberant personality making it virtually impossible for anyone watching the film to judge her. Perhaps the only one in the world who can be granted that right is her daughter. But, rather than passing judgment on her mother, Wray masterfully chronicles their reunion with such thorough intimacy that the documentary ultimately achieves, astonishingly enough, a certain level of objectivity. This is accomplished by Wray turning the camera on herself—a choice not of self-indulgence, but of unguarded personal disclosure. The result is not only an honest and indelible look at the fragile relationship between a mother and a daughter, but also an examination of the nature of love itself. This extraordinary little film gives you complete access to the most private moments of these lives, and forces us to take a hard, good look at how we all express our love of those for whom we truly care. An exceptional work that pulls no punches, MANHATTAN, KANSAS is one of the best documentaries I've ever seen.


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