Metro Manila

Whilst there’s been a major surge in interest in Asian Cinema over the last 25 years in the West, this has sadly also brought with it a spate (of mainly terrible) Hollywood remakes. The Likes of Ringu, Ju-on, Kairo, Infernal Affairs and Dark Water have all seen weak Western adaptations, with Oldboy and The Host yet to come. Metro Manila had its International Premiere at Cannes earlier this year, and off the back of winning the Audience Award, it has already been optioned by Fox and will be getting the remake treatment in the near future.

Struggling rice farmer Oscar (Jake Macapagal) has no option but to move with his wife Mia (Althea Vega) and their children to Manila in order to survive. They soon discover that all that glitters isn’t gold, with Mia being forced to work in a bar until Oscar lands a lucky break finding a job with a security firm. He partners up with the experienced Ong (John Arcilla) and things begin to look up, but everything isn’t quite what it seems.

Writer/Director Sean Ellis has made something slight but very powerful. Metro Manila eschews an all-action bloodfest in favour of a thoughtful offbeat slow-burning suspense drama. The largely unknown cast are all very impressive and Ellis keeps the pace going, throwing in all manner of intrigues and red herrings along the way. It’s a film that will keep you guessing up to the very end.

Ellis has taken the decision to film in the Philippines (for financial reasons), using a local cast, and it would seem to have paid off for him. Metro Manila is a very cleverly made film which keeps the audience hooked until the final dénouement.

Metro Manila is out now at the Showroom.

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