Saturday, September 22, 2012

Graceland (Ron Morales, 2012)

There's no Elvis Presley in here, but the film sure rocks!

Blending political scandals, social issues, and Akira Kurosawa's High and Low, the taut suspense thriller Graceland holds the audience in a vise-like grip. A poor chauffeur named Marlon Villar (Arnold Reyes) witnesses a kidnapping gone wrong. His little girl Elvie was abducted wrongly because she was wearing the school uniform of the real target, Sophia, her playmate and daughter of a big-time, wealthy politician. But, upon orders of the kidnappers, the hapless father tells the rich parents that Sophia had been kidnapped with a ransom of two million pesos.

Reyes does a wonderful job of portraying a father trying his utmost best to save his daughter. Marlon Villar is at a loss on whether to tell the truth about the real fate of Sophia to her parents. However, he has to consider first the safe return of his own daughter, Elvie. Marlon  must lie and act as if Sophia was alive and the one being held in captive.

A determined police investigator squeezes details from Marlon. But, he can't get any headway because Elvie supports the story of her father. Lies and lies are piling up like uncollected trash at a garbage dump.

The stinky story all started from the dirty deeds of congressman Manuel Chango, a pervert who devours preteen girls. The wasted look of the young prostitute at the cab unnerves you. There's a Travis Brickle and Howard Beale-like anger boiling in you. You can't take it anymore. 

Pu----I--N'yo... The grandma's cussing relieves you of pent-up anger. All the director need to do after that scene is to ensure that the bastards get what they deserve.

Director Morales had a sure hand in this film project. He delicately tackled child prostitution. There's irony as two fathers try to save their daughters while the prostitutes, almost the same age as their kids, were treated like commodities by both fathers. The pacing and plot twists are that of a gripping, white-knuckle thriller. The inclusion of the shoplifting segment is a stroke of genius. Sophia, aping the behavior of her dad, corrupts her friend into doing a crime. The distinction between high and low classes gets blurred as seen in the mixed-up clothes of the girls. The monstrous political corruption, if left unchecked, will devour all of us.

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