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By Heinrich Domingo

Honor Thy Father is a mine of gold for cinephiles who have been patiently digging for something good in an insurmountable mound of trashy MMFF collection. It completes the checklist of an outstanding film – intricate storyline, enticing cinematography, and empathic acting.

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In the annual showcase of films in the capitalist-driven Metro Manila Film Festival, a deviant movie always rises. It is deviant for mediocrity has become the norm. For 2015, Honor Thy Father coveted this spot.

Under the direction of Erik Matti, the film tells the story of a couple named Edgar (played by John Lloyd Cruz) and Kaye (played by Meryll Soriano). After falling for a Ponzi scheme, they find themselves penniless with multitudes of credit to pay and a death threat. To save his wife and daughter, Edgar is confronted to face his past and conquer his enemies. The story narrates the ill nature of the world decorated with hopelessness, dissatisfaction, and desperation.

Webbing with the lives of the film characters are relevant but seldom discussed topics of religious fanaticism, bankruptcy, and organized fraud. It is no easy feat to carefully interweave with these subplots to provide a seamless narrative. Yet, from beginning to end, the plot was able to hold itself together without crumbling into pieces.

The ambitious screenplay added beauty to the movie. Critical shots were taken in a deep tunnel seemingly dug by amateur small-scale miners. This leaves the viewers to be constantly suspended in air in anticipation for what to happen next. Thus, Honor Thy Father is not your typical poverty-centered festival film. It proves to the audience that the makers can both be highly technical in filmmaking while profoundly discussing social realities.

Aside from John Lloyd’s notable acting, other casts were able to give character to their roles. Meryll was able to present the transition of a proud housewife into one who is suddenly consumed by fear and disappointment. Also, Tirso Cruz III exuded the overwhelming presence of a fraudulent religious leader. From Daniel Fernandez to Khalil Ramos, all owned by their roles as each of them radiate the persona they represent.

With all these winning qualities, Honor Thy Father is a soulful masterpiece that has the rare quality to reach the audience into their core. It is an art that values respect between the creator and the viewer. It does not intimidate. Rather it gives space to audience to ponder what is exclaimed in the big screen. This is the partnership that must be flourished inside the cinema – one that honors both the giver and the receiver.

4.5 stars

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