Fantasia 2018: Neomanila

A young gang member is taken in by a pair of assassins in Neomanila. In the near future, extrajudicial executions of drug dealers have become a way of life in Manila. In an effort to free his jailed brother, Toto (Timothy Castillo) is paired with the couple of Irma (Eula Valdez) and Raul (Rocky Salumbides), two freelance exterminators, who bring Toto under their wing. However, the question arises whether Toto can handle the world of killing for hire.

Neomanila is a neo-noir film from director Mikhail Red, which takes place in a violent and somewhat dystopian Philippines of the near future. The plot of the film is inspired by the real policies of the Duterte presidency, where extrajudicial kills have become a more common practice, in order to “clean up” the country. The story of Neomanila is told from the point of view of the young gang member Toto, who is forced to betray his gang leader Dugo (Jess Mendoza) and become part of an EJK death squad, where he is taught the ropes by Irma, whom he develops a motherly relationship with.

I have to say that Neomanila is a gritty, yet incredibly slow paced crime drama. The plot takes quite a while to truly get going and I found myself dozing off a bit in the first half. However, that’s not to say that Neomanila isn’t an important commentary on the political climate in the Philippines, it probably could have used a better execution, as well as a shorter running time.

Screenings

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Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).