Metro Manila won the Audience award for best World Dramatic Competition film at Sundance 2013. This is UK writer/director Sean Ellis's third feature-length film. Set in the Philippines this is a story of a rural farmer, Oscar, who takes his wife and two children to Manila to find employment and a better life. The promises of gainful employment and opportunity however aren't as easily realized and their morals and faith are put to the test. In the Q&A Sean Ellis stated that this plot is a well-tread cliché in the Philippines but here it seems fresh, as is the setting of Manila where we are privy to its desperate slums and seedy underbelly. Metro Manila is a combination of a family drama, heist movie and crime thriller. There isn't a lot of action but there is always the sense of inevitable violence and danger awaiting our protagonist. Beyond writing and directing, Sean Ellis also handled the cinematography and operated the Steadicam. The film is shot beautifully with an over the shoulder documentary feel (thankfully not a shaky-cam) which brings you wholly into these characters lives and predicaments. We are constantly trapped in enclosed spaces with Oscar which provides not only intimacy, but complicity in his actions. Oscar Ramirez, played by Jake Macapagal, and his wife Mia, played by Althea Vega, both easily elicit our deepest sympathies. The performances (including our two leads) are lead mainly by native theater actors, the film is very cinematic but they bring a naturalistic presence and their talent on screen is apparent. Oscar and his wife are devout and have tried honest labor farming. The only job she can find is in a seedy dancing bar and he is lucky to find a job transporting valuables in an armored vehicle which is considered one of the most dangerous jobs as the city is rife with criminals. Soon, he is asked to compromise his morals in the face of being able to provide for his family. This film is a look at how the poor and disenfranchised are constantly exploited and taken advantage of as well as what greed and desperation can lead to. The sense of poverty and helplessness is palpable and is emotionally staggering. You will feel guilty for complaining about your job and any other first world problems you may have. This is a film that entertains, excites and lets you appreciate and reflect on your own situation.
Crime / Drama
Crime / Drama
Seeking a brighter future in megacity Manila, Oscar Ramirez and his family flee their impoverished life in the rice fields of the northern Philippines. But the sweltering capital's bustling...
December 27, 2020