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 intensity quickly overwhelms them, and they fall prey to the rampant manipulations of its hardened locals.
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Sean Ellis follows up 'Broken' and 'Cashback' with this foray into Metro Manila and has made one of the year's most transfixing and exciting films. A tale of a farmer and his wife forced by poverty into the city who take dangerous jobs to start over and support their young children. At first he feels he has achieved a good job but soon finds himself manipulated into a heist and possible destitution. A total gem.
Gut-wrenching story about poor farmer taking his family to Manila to find a better life. In what seems like an endless series of lucky breaks and disappointments, the farmer's naivety eventually wears off and out of desperation he sorts out a final solution for his family.
Story's tragic outcomes were far expected, conjointly with the suitable pace adopted, in a film that works very well as a slow-burning drama, heist thriller, and bitter analysis of a problematic country. (3.5 stars)
"Metro Manila is so spellbound by its setting that it is a good hour before we discover what kind of film it is going to be. It begins as a swirling drama of survival in the Filipino capital — but then suddenly it slips off down an alleyway, only to emerge a scrupulously engineered, Christopher Nolan-ish crime thriller." - Robbie Collin, The Telegraph
Total crap. The purpose is: get a westerner director to showcase the sad gritty lives of the poor people of the Philipines to western audiences in an educational fashion. Indulge in reality cliches to make the viewer feel so bad that ditching reality altogether in the end will work by appeasing their consciences.
There are cliches and the drama can be painfully slow. The ending and the brilliant acting, especially by John Arcilla, are the redeeming forces here. Still, thumbs up to Sean Ellis for a brave portrait of Filipinos who leave their lives in the provinces to try their luck in Metro Manila.