TIFF 2022: Our Review of ‘Manticore’

Posted in TIFF 2022 by - September 15, 2022
TIFF 2022: Our Review of ‘Manticore’

We all have an idea about what’s evil versus good, but each individual has a different answer to what either looks like. Thankfully Julian (Nacho Sanchez), a Spanish character designer for video games, has a good enough of an imagination for that. During a surprise party for one of his bosses he meets her friend Diana (Zoe Stein), an art history major. He explains his job to her, and that designing evil monsters are better for him than designing people, because there are less rules for the former than there are for the latter. He eventually dates Diana but despite her presence, there’s someone he can’t shake off. A little boy who lives in his building. Carlos Vermut’s Manticore is that kind of a movie.

Anyone watching Manticore will have Julian’s obsession with his neighbour at the back of their head while he’s with Diana or is doing anything else. This film can go both ways. Either he lives his life, the thought of the neighbour fleeting as minutes go by, or he leaves traces of his immoral desire and faces the consequences for it. Vermut’s direction and screenplay are smart enough to leave both options open without making it feel like he using ambiguity for its sake. He also neither condemns nor condones Julian’s sickness, and that kind of approach makes viewers invest in what happens to him. Experiencing this on the big screen also helps us feel the rawness of observing this character and maybe someone else.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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