Metro Manila

"Very Good"

Metro Manila Review


There's a visceral sense of urgency in this cleverly made thriller that holds our attention even when the plot begins to feel over-constructed. It's a ripping film, made with real style and a strong emotional undercurrent that helps us identify with the characters even as things get increasing violent. And perhaps the most remarkable thing about it is the way British filmmaker Sean Ellis drops us right into the streets of Manila.

And that's exactly what happens to the young family at the centre of the story. Oscar (Macapagal) is a village farmer struggling to make ends meet, so he and his wife Mai (Vega) gather their two young daughters and head for the big city to find work. But what they discover is far more horrific than they could imagine. Robbed of their savings, they end up squatting in an empty slum dwelling. Oscar takes one of the most dangerous jobs in Manila as an armoured-van driver, while Mai takes work in a seedy lap-dancing club. And both are pushed into increasingly ugly moral compromises. Finally, Oscar sees a way out when his colourfully shady mentor Ong (Arcilla) gets him involved in a corrupt deal.

Even if the plot machinery feels rather creaky, the film continually twists and turns, throwing these people into unexpected situations that are often difficult to watch. It helps that the novice actors are so good at creating characters we can sympathise with on a variety of levels. So we understand their desperation even if we can't identify with the oppressive violence around them. And it's this earthiness that gives the film a real kick.

As Ellis and Flowers' script throws one nightmare after another at this family, we long for them to find even a glimmer of hope. And the final scenes are fiercely inventive in this sense. This is skilful filmmaking that combines ferocious nastiness with raw human emotion while conveying elements of Filipino culture we've never seen before on screen. But then, this same story could be set in almost any city on earth.



Metro Manila

Facts and Figures

Genre: Thriller

Run time: 115 mins

In Theaters: Friday 20th September 2013

Distributed by: Oscilloscope Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Fresh: 27 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 7.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Sean Ellis

Producer: Sean Ellis, Mathilde Charpentier

Starring: Jake Macapagal as Oscar Ramirez, John Arcilla as Ong, Althea Vega as Mai Ramirez

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.