Wednesday Night Southeast Asia Movie: Metro Manila
October 14, 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Mānoa Campus, St. John Plant Science Lab Auditorium Rm 11 (basement)
England/Philippines (2013, 115 min)
Tagalog w/English subtitles
Director: Sean Ellis
Screenplay: Sean Ellis, Frank E. Flowers
Cast: Jake Macapagal (as Oscar Ramirez), John Arcilla (as Douglas Ong), Althea Vega (as Mai Ramirez), Erin Panlilio (as Angel Ramirez), Iasha Aceio (as Baby Ramirez), Mailes Kanapi (as Charlie), JM Rodriguez (as Alfred Santos), Ana Abad-Santos (as Dora Ong), Moises Magisa (as Buddha)
METRO MANILA zeros in on an impoverished couple, barely surviving as rice farmers in Benguet Province, the northern region of the Philippines where the scenery is as gorgeous as life is harsh. Oscar Ramirez (Jake Macapagal) and his wife Mai (Althea Vega) have two small daughters to take care of. Once they find out that the price for rice has dropped too far to feed a family, they're left with little choice. Together with their meagre belongings, they move to Quezon City in Metro Manila to seek out a means to survive.
Oscar lands himself an interview to work as part of a security team that delivers highly valuable contents for highly valuable clients and befriends Ong (John Arcila), a senior guard who vouches for him and becomes his partner. Mai also finds a job, more than a touch skewed from decency, and as smooth as you like the story transitions with seamless fluidity from a family drama into a crime film that becomes all the more engrossing as it develops.
The local actors and the city itself, whose ferocious intensity is captured with dazzling energy by director Sean Ellis's photography and framing, lure the viewer into its exotic setting and make Oscar's story all the more enticing and memorable. Walking away from this movie though, after one of the most impressive endings to a film in a long while, there's no denying that the core strength lies in that most essential aspect of the art: storytelling. It's drama, it's crime, it's a story of a family's survival against the struggle of life.
Nikola Grozdanovic, The Playlist indiewire.com
Free and open to the public
Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Mānoa Campus
(808) 956-2688, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://cseashawaii.org