Country: Philippines / UK
Movie Review: The third feature film from English filmmaker Sean Ellis, "Metro Manila", is a thrilling trip into despair of having to start a new life from scratch in a dangerous place. Facing severe financial problems, Oscar Ramirez (Jake Macapagal) and his wife Mai (Althea Vega) leave their farm in the Philippine Benoue province, in the company of their two young daughters, to try their luck in Manila. Astonished with the city’s intensity, they’ll soon learn that nothing is too easy in an inhuman jungle where everyone tries to survive the best they can. Swindled in the day of their arrival, Oscar and Mai will have different lucks in their following jobs, being exploited in two very different manners. While she starts working in a hideous bar for gentlemen, he gets an apparently steady position in an armored truck company, being trained by his helpful but tricky partner, Ong (John Arcilla). The couple is about to inhabit a merciless and destructive world of ambition, greediness, and exploitation. Effective in capturing the vibrancy of the city with its accurately shots, Ellis conducted the story in a gripping way, triggering never-ending situations on how a chaotic society can take advantage of one’s innocence and impoverishment. 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. Having been nominated for the BAFTA awards 2014, “Metro Manila” was awarded at Hamburg and Sundance film festivals.