Search This Blog

Friday 22 November 2013

The Manor, Film by Shawney Cohen 7* out of 10

Shawney Cohen is running the bar in The Manor, the nightclub and associated hotel his father Roger took over and made the family business when Shawney and his brother Sammy were children. Roger, born in Egypt emigrated to Israel and then to Canada where he started penniless as a taxi-driver. He married Brenda, the daughter of holocaust survivors. Successfully running a night-club with its lap-dancing girls in the small Canadian city of Guelph requires street-smarts and a certain robustness. The nightclub has made Roger’s family a comfortable living, but a lap-dancing club is not a respectable business for a "nice Jewish family", is it? Moreover, as it seems that both sons will follow their father into this shady family business, the psychological problems and family conflicts can no longer be kept under the surface. The Manor chronicles the trials and tribulations of Cohen family, as its members try, each in their own way, to cope with their problems - business, health, personal.  Should they arrange themselves with the "golden cage" that is the family business or free themselves from its materially comfortable yet psychologically and socially toxic embrace?

Though a documentary, The Manor feels like a family drama/comedy. It is the first documentary made my Shawney Cohen. He paints a a sensitive and moving portrayal of his family, without covering up conflicts or character flaws.  The extent to which members of the family are able to switch between suppressing conflict and openly discussing problems and their desire to look out for each other despite all the personality conflicts makes this a spellbinding film. Despite all the unfavourable odds there is a spark of love and connectedness among all the protagonists which gives rise to the hope that that this family will manage to deal with its problems in persistent, cautious and authentic. Meanwhile The Manor, warts and all,  is a very watchable family portrait. Another example of UK Jewish Film Festival bringing a entertaining quality film to an appreciative audience at the Tricycle Cinema.

No comments:

Post a Comment