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The Manor: When the heart of the family is a strip club

3 out of 4 stars

The Manor
Directed by
Shawney Cohen, Mike Gallay

Dad's been running a strip club in Guelph, Ont., for 30 years and weighs a killer 400 pounds. Mom's the daughter of Holocaust survivors, anorexic, 85 pounds of denial. Younger brother's been working at the club for 15 years and is dating one of the strippers. What can a poor son do but make a documentary about the great dysfunctionality of it all? Which is just what Shawney (a.k.a. Sean) Cohen has done here, assisted by fellow Torontonian Mike Gallay. The Manor is opening Hot Docs 2013, the first Canuck film so honoured in at least a decade. It's easy to see why – its 78 minutes are rich with character (especially Dad), incident, friction, deadpan humour and voyeuristic thrills. It also feels quite tidy, orchestrated even, so viewers may occasionally wonder if they're seeing a feature-length documentary or a documentary-style feature.

April 25, 9:30 p.m., Bloor; April 29, 12 p.m., Lightbox. It opens commercially in Toronto on May 10, followed by openings in other Canadian cities throughout the spring.

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James More


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