“KAKAININ DIN BA nila tayo ng buhay, Papa? (Will they also eat as alive, Father?).”
This was the question asked by Angel (Krystal Brimner) to her father, Edgar (John Lloyd Cruz) in one of the most poignant scenes in ‘Honor Thy Father,’ which for me is the best film in this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival, if not the best Filipino film this 2015.
I just happened to have watched the film on December 26, the day when the news about its disqualification for best picture category of MMFF 2015 broke the news, just a day before the awards night.
I don’t know if it’s just a coincidence but yes, the film seems to be facing the challenges suffered by its lead character — be eaten alive by dirty politics even in the very festival it is now part of.
Without a doubt, ‘Honor They Father‘ is the biggest treat to this year’s festival audience who for years already, have been denied of quality films to watch during Christmas break.
Director Erik Matti is pure genius. While I liked his hands on ‘On The Job,’ I like him even more for ‘Honor Thy Father.’ The same praises go for writer Michiko Yamamoto, whose first work I admired was ‘Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros’ back in early 2000.
‘Honor Thy Father‘ tackles the most sensitive yet important aspects of being Filipino, or of being human at that — religion, money, and family — flawlessly and poetically encapsulated, and sent out for the viewers to digest through its main character’s eyes. While it tackles the broad irony about faith (in religion and in God), the bond that keeps family together, and the outside forces that keep the bond either intact or dismantled, ‘Honor Thy Father‘ makes sure that it is personal and first person, as it puts viewers in the shoes of Edgar.
The absense of plot twists or long narratives that usually compose good films make ‘Honor Thy Father‘ extra excellent as it focused only on the drama and poetry of its desperate character sorting on desperate measures to save the family he loves. This all takes place with the rural views of Baguio and Bontoc as the background, and amidst highlights on faith, biblical verses, and self-righteousness.
Seeing Cruz’ in a much heavy role is still quite new to many but no one would deny that this is his best performance so far. Though I loved him in almost all his films especially in ‘The Trial,’ where he played an intellectually-challenged individual, his being able to carry the weight of his character excellently in ‘Honor Thy Father‘ cemented his best actor win for Cruz. Knowing that he co-produced the film only sealed our love for the actor.
To say Meryll Soriano is perfect for her role is an understatement. The lady will give our ultimate choice for best actress, Jennylyn Mercado a good fight. Whoever wins, we’ll gladly accept.
Dan Fernandez, Boom Labrusca, and Khalil Ramos who play as Edgar’s brothers deserve accolades as well. Tirso Cruz III, who plays as church leader, has also proven his acting power that only gets better overtime. The guy is a sure best supporting actor winner.
‘Honor Thy Father‘ is worthy of your time, money, and praises. Expect to leave the theaters thinking, and contemplating about it. Just make sure to spread the news because the Filipino viewing public deserve a masterpiece as this.
Verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Note: This review is part of our MMFF 2015 Movie Review project for this blog. We aim to watch all the film-entries in this year’s festival not only to write reviews about but also to encourage discussion among our thinking readers. After all, MMFF is definitely here to stay every Holiday seasons whether we like it or not. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.