Review: Honor Thy Father

Archie del Mundo's Review:

The world created by the filmmakers of Honor Thy Father seems fit for a zombie thriller. Everyone seems to have died long ago with their vapid submission to greed and religion. These walking dead are merely functioning through the noxious incitements of promised salvation and the comforts of traditional family and revered institution no matter how questioning their landscapes have become. But not our lone wolf Edgar (John Lloyd Cruz). He is an outsider in the grand designs of blind loyalty to establishments. If there had been vaporized opium in the Cordilleras, he wasn’t inhaling them. He is content with running away, gardening for a living, and mostly shutting up in the corner. It turns out that material possessions are the only strong-built this android world is hanging on. Scriptwriter Michiko Yamamoto pulls out from her signature bag full of inciting points a world that will crumble to its own conceit.

FADE IN tragedy as it smokes such a weary foundation; CUT TO: the automatons react by leaping off their feet kidnapping and abusing a child without fear, even of facing severe legal retributions; intently breaking and entering, and taking possessions as personal as a Louis Vuitton purse or as lowly as  grabbing a propane tank – without a morsel of regard for civilization; and finally, gravely threatening to endanger lives as if off they can go living with themselves the sooner they got their post-apocalyptic kits.  

Edgar is equally a ticking timebomb and that innocent wall the time bomb to which attached. At first thinking, he could have delivered his family from this morass by electing a heist all by himself – but finally having an epiphany that this seemingly small-scale narrative of director Erik Matti could spring up to epic proportion by tying up the loose ends of Lloydie’s Bontoc family of crooked miners and the corrupt riches of the church to which he belongs. Such cinematic awareness also allows veteran actors Perla Bautista and Dan Fernandez to share the acting bonanza that has been exploding since the beginning.  The result is a devastatingly bleak auto-portraiture of a society beyond the comeuppances of honorable, sociopolitical, and psychospiritual deliverance.  

Meryll Soriano’s woman-in-vain is no Sienna Miller to Bradley Cooper’s antihero in American Sniper. Her Kaye is a character that breaks the mold. She almost outperformed Cruz in the film’s plentiful dramatic highlights, making up to her tragic female’s lack of exit wounds. Soriano delivers this year’s most brilliant supporting performance without the need for ornamentation coming from a pliable trophy.

Erik Matti has always been one of the most visually profound filmmakers in the Philippines. He needs no long and winding expositions, nor serviceable dialogues to drive home the drama. His masterful dramatic spades, fluid and inimitable, are raring to be studied in scholarly fashions. In Honor Thy Father, a film effort that does not go with the pretense of perfection, Matti successfully goes beyond the trappings of the genre, or even the artifices of independent filmmaking.

Rating: 4.5/5

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