Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Metro Manila: A Bite of Reality

Metro Manila film review

Last Sunday, we took our little boy to his first trip to the cinema to watch Metro Manila, an award-winning film that was a marriage between his own ethnic origins with a British director and Filipino actors. He slept through the whole thing of course, save for ten minutes of breastfeeding, and for nearly two hours at least, I was able to once again experience the sights and sounds of the country where I come from. 

It was an age-old Filipino tale of survival in the country's capital. A rice-farming young family was in the verge of destitution after their crop failed and decided to leave their tranquil life in the province to relocate and seek employment in the bustling Metro Manila region. Once there, they immediately fell prey to local fraudsters, losing what little money they have saved and were forced to squat in the slum where they slowly slide into the poverty trap.  

The tide started to turn when the husband Oscar found himself not only a job in a security-van company but a friend in his senior Ong. But this friendship came with a cost and we found out about the life-changing contents of a missing safety deposit box and what it would take to open it. 

The story may be typically Filipino but the bittersweet ending was admittedly very British, one that shocked my mother who came to watch it with us. But how should it have ended otherwise? 

I was briefly reminded of a Facebook post denouncing moral relativism. When you have a roof over your head and eat three meals a day, it would be easy to distinguish black from white. But when your family is clinging on the cliff's edge, different rules apply. 

This movie will not be a commercial success in the Philippines with its lack of well-known actors and only its critical international acclaim to advertise it. The Metro Manila here depicts the gritty reality of urban life with seedy alleys, empty lots, dark bars and rundown houses. The people are desperately holding on to their faith and principles amidst the struggles and hardships of life in a capital of nearly 12 million inhabitants. No, this is not a movie that will help you escape your own sad reality but to confront and disturb, to jolt you out of your comfort zone and horrify you enough to understand that unless we have a fairer society, we cannot expect the same set of moral values to govern everyone. 

Metro Manila is now showing in the UK and will be released in the Philippines on October 9. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...