Hot Docs 2017 Review: Manic
A four year journey of discovery that feels anything but.
Manic dives into the lives of the filmmaker Kalina Bertin’s family, one that she feels is mentally falling apart. Bertin’s bother Francois Sean, and her sister Felicia both struggle with severe mental health issues, which slightly cripples their way of life, while Kalina and her youngest brother Jeremy suffer from their internal battles that she attempts to unearth through her father who is no longer with them. As she digs deeper into her father and her life she finds more than she could have bargained for, as she reveals the true enigmatic figure that her father George was.
Fueled by home movies, old photos, and fly on the wall like coverage of the family as they live their daily lives, the documentary totes itself as a four year exploration of her father’s history, but that exploration and time is never felt. In fact, one would say that little is felt throughout this documentary. The family that we are surrounded with are highlighted and drop to the background for the continuation of her father’s rich history, the only real vehicle of storytelling to grasp on to in the film.
The small revelations that Manic could make are lost in a cut that’s bloated with footage and dialogue that doesn’t seem to get the documentary anywhere. Often times feeling drawn out, one has to wonder if Manic would serve better with a tighter cut as it currently leaves its viewer lost in the woods.