Mikhail Red, the young filmmaker behind the critically-acclaimed “Birdshot,” which is also the Philippines’ entry to the 90th Academy Awards, is back with his third feature film. Part of the Circle Competition of the fifth QCinema International Film Festival, “Neomanila” is equal parts thriller and Greek tragedy. Here are 8 things you’ll miss if you fail to see this film that won the Audience Choice award, and has already got everybody talking.
1. Eula Valdes in another gripping performance
This should be reason enough not to miss “Neomanila.” Eula Valdes is one of the best character actresses working today, who once charmed our hearts as a UP professor having a mid-life crisis in “Dagitab.” This time, Valdes takes on the role of a hired killer named Irma, whose ruthlessness for killing is matched by her capacity for compassion.
2. Timothy Castillo’s rise to greatness
Castillo has been in several notable films already, such as “Violator” and “Ma’ Rosa,” but it is his turn as the killer-in-training Toto in “Neomanila” that will make audiences remember his name. Castillo approaches his character with a mix of poignant innocence and forced maturity, that even though he is forced into a life of crime, we desperately want him to survive the dog-eat-dog city.
3. A story as hot as today’s headlines
“Neomanila” is a film that vividly captures the present era of extrajudicial killings. If you’ve been searching for catharsis for the spate of killings you’ve countlessly seen on the news, here it is, a film that doesn’t pull its punches on riding-in-tandems and police profiteering in the current drug war.
4. A touching “mother-and-son” story
In the film, Irma (Valdes) and Toto (Castillo) aren’t biologically related, but they might as well be, given the bittersweet journey of their characters. Despite being an edge-of-your-seat thriller, “Neomanila” also highlights a very human connection between Irma and Toto, as they go from one deadly assignment to another.
5. Those killer lines you’ll soon be quoting
Mikhail Red, his cousin Rae Red, and Zig Dulay are the people you will later thank for the lines of dialogue you will be reciting in your head. Some samples are: “Suspek o biktima, walang talagang pinagkaiba ‘yan eh,” (suspect or victim, there really is no difference) and “ang totoong pumapatay, ‘di umaamin. Tahimik lang. Tantyado kung kailan magsasalita” (a real killer never confesses, remaing silent until the right moment to speak).
6. Angeli Bayani in a show-stopping scene
No role is too small if you give it everything you’ve got, and award-winning actress Angeli Bayani proves this in “Neomanila.” We don’t want to reveal what character she plays in the film, only that it is a very important one.
7. That gorgeous cinematography
Shot by Mycko David (“Tuos,” “Birdshot”), “Neomanila” bursts with strong neon colors and some of the finest use of silhouette you’ll see this year, adding grit to the film’s nihilistic undertones. David won the QCinema Pylon award for Best Artistic Achievement in Cinematography for “Neomanila.”
8. That haunting soundtrack
We won’t spoil what the soundtrack of the movie is (or you can Google it if you really want to be spoiled), but it is a haunting track that will make you see the film in a different light. Clue: it was written and originally performed by a very popular local 90s band. For “Neomanila,” the song appears in three versions.
What do you think of the movie? Tell us below!