Manito (2003)


Critic Consensus: An intimate and moving picture that captures the life of one of Manhattan's neighborhoods.


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One family's triumph soon turns to tragedy in a hard-hitting drama from debuting writer and director Eric Eason. Manny (Leo Minaya) is a bright 18-year-old who is soon to graduate from high school in the Washington Heights district of Manhattan. Manny will be attending college in the fall on a full scholarship -- no small accomplishment in his family, who were living in Washington Heights when it was one of the roughest neighborhoods in New York City. Years ago, Manny's father Oscar (Manuel Cabral) was caught selling drugs out of his corner store, and was pinched in a police narcotics raid; his older son Junior (Franky G.) took the fall and spent several years in jail, while Oscar became persona non grata among the rest of the family. Junior isn't much better as a role model for Manny than their father; Junior runs an off-the-books plaster-contracting firm which primarily uses illegal aliens for its labor force, and he's habitually unfaithful to his wife Miriam (Julissa Lopez). Manny has a girlfriend, Marisol (Jessica Morales), who is a guest for the family's big party to celebrate Manny's graduation; Oscar arrives uninvited, leading to an ugly argument that prompts Manny and Marisol to leave for her place. On the way home, Manny and Marisol have a run-in with a gang of toughs, which leads to an altercation; the next morning, Manny is in jail after a shooting incident, and Junior scrambles to keep his little brother out of jail. With few options, Junior is forced to swallow his pride and turn to Oscar for help in order to save his brother. Manito's ensemble cast was awarded a Special Jury Prize when the film was shown in competition at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival.

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Critic Reviews for Manito

All Critics (31) | Top Critics (16)

The film shows a capsule of American urban life where few outside the community venture in. Eason hands out an invitation to do so. Accept it willingly.

Jul 1, 2005 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Ragged but intense, this compassionate little movie is stocked with enough skillful touches and sensitive moments to stir interest in Eason's future work.

Jun 20, 2003

A low-budget wonder.

Jun 13, 2003 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

A remarkably assured feature debut, Eric Eason's raw, intimate movie deftly captures the kinetic energy of its Washington Heights setting.

Jun 13, 2003 | Rating: 3/4

What Manito delivers that its cable TV cousins rarely seem interested in exploring are the tiniest details of the real urban 'hood where its stories take place.

Jun 13, 2003 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Eason has crafted a small, independent film that has an outsized impact.

Jun 13, 2003 | Rating: 3/4

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