Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Honor Thy Father (Erik Matti, Metro Manila Film Festival 2015)

Honor Thy Father, Erik Matti’s riveting follow-up to his critically-acclaimed film OTJ, takes a look at how a multi-million investment scam drove a father named Edgar to desperate measures. The father (John Lloyd Cruz) attempts to shield his family from belligerent investors. His journey to the mountains and his tunneling through a ditch reflect the roller-coaster ride of emotions he is experiencing.

Scriptwriter Michiko Yamamoto subtly compares the money-making ruckus of a religious group with the sleazy operations of big-time scammers. Both operations employ slick people with gift of gab. Their judicious choice of words lures wealthy people to part with huge amount of money. On a regular service day, Edgar and family’s cash donation to the Church of Yeshua is in the ballpark of six figures. This is mere peanuts though when compared to the million peso donation made by Edgar’s father-in-law.

The public acknowledgment of donors serves as a magnet for investors. The family easily convinces a handful of couples to become investors with their stories of huge returns. Troubles befall the family after the mysterious death of their patriarch.

The mother of Edgar, Nanang (Perla Bautista), is a crucial and powerful character. She manages to hold together her sons into a well-oiled cohesive group. They could have titled this film ‘Honor Thy Mother’ and it still would be somewhat apt. Her word is still obeyed by all her sons. Her decision to help Edgar sets in motion a notable heist scene.

Honor Thy Father shows Matti's adeptness in handling different genres like Mike de Leon. Unlike de Leon who subverts and deconstructs the film genre he dabbled into, Matti offers solid, technically-proficient, well-directed genre films. With Honor Thy Father, Matti mixes a relevant drama story with bits and pieces of the heist genre and the Taken-type of actioner. He has notable genre entries such as the fantasy-adventure film Exodus, superhero flick Gagamboy, horror movie Pa-siyam, and also an art film in The Arrival.

The gritty performance of a deglamorized, skinhead John Lloyd Cruz won for him the Urian Best Actor Award. He has appeared in an indie film (Cinemalaya 2007’s Still Life) a long time ago but Honor Thy Father is a major acting breakthrough for the matinee idol. He must have enjoyed appearing in indie films that he agreed to do roles in two Lav Diaz films, Hele Sa Hiw
agang Hapis and Ang Babaeng Humayo. The latter film shows Cruz as a transgender with a death wish. His performance in the Venice Film Festival Best Picture winner will probably bring him more awards this year.

Matti won back-to-back directing awards at the Metro Manila Film Festival. He jumped back into the horror-suspense genre and came out a big winner with Seklusyon. John Lloyd Cruz was one of the jurors at the recently concluded Metro Manila Film Festival 2016.

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