MNL 143: From Manila with Love, a Review

The title of the movie itself would give you the idea what the plot of it would be. The title is very contextual, very cultural or very geographical. If you don’t know what is MNL or where is it, then this is the time for you to find it on Google or the best way to know it is to watch it.

The very first thing that you will see in the movie is parts of the City of Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. What is interesting here was the showing of what is the true situation of Manila (well, not just in Manila but any other cities in the country) which is not bad to show, actually. We, Filipinos, must accept the fact that we are among those countries where rich people dominated the poor where in fact there are more poor people. The film MNL 143 looked on one of the dark sides of living in Manila, living in the Philippines. BUT! (yes, there is a big BUT(t) here), this is not always and never be the case. Because living in Manila is full of adventure that one could actually say “yes”and go through.

Okay, let’s go into the movie. I would say that MNL 143 belongs to many of the movies I’ve seen which has a very good and the best cinematography. That beginning of the movie really showed it such as the scenes where there slow motions of the vehicle, of the people. Good cinematography also would be when the antagonist went down of his car and then walked to one side of the place (the place is absolutely, UP Diliman), looking for something and the camera closed him up and the angles were seen so much. This is cinematography for me, even we say that it is only part of the editing but it is so good.

The screenplay must not be overlooked. Good screenplay would make a movie to be watched and MNL is very good about it. Many symbolisms were used to show the meaning, hidden and not. The used of FX is but a long journey for seeking, for looking, for waiting. Someone said that waiting takes courage and Ramil has full of it. Even there is a greater chance of finding no Mila, Ramil always had the hope for about 5 long years.

The introduction of the movie to Ramil, as kind-hearted to the barker played by Lou Veloso and a man looking forward, somehow, to fly to Saudi as an OFW, signified who is a Filipino. The plot never left the true value of being a Filipino. It was greatly supported by the passengers riding Ramil’s FX. What the FX really gave the audiences was the fact that we have different attitudes. We also have the capability of not going down in times of ups and downs in the road but not on the scene where a certain man caught his co-passenger taking him a video by another man played by Ramon Bautista.

Although the love story of Ramil and Mila of which they did not meet for a long time was a typical love story for some movies, the strategy of using a vehicle for seeking created a unique plot. However, the meeting of Ramil and Mila again did not give me the excitement or the feeling of being touched by it. I would consider their meeting as a climax but it did not reach it’s hottest. It was not even a surprising scene but a smile and the “kilig” it brought (their meeting) would never leave your mood. And it would give you a heart-breaking scene, somehow. If you are a heart-broken when you watch it, you would probably cry.

But a certain scene would stop you from crying and laughter would come in. It a scene where Ramil showed to Mila a dress. Ramil knew for so many years that it was Mila’s. Unfortunately, Mila declared that it was her mother’s dress which they looked for a long time.

Although there were no explicit scenes in the movie, MNL 143 did not even felt safe in the sharpness of censorship and what the institution or people disqualified it did not even done censorship. It is because the basis of their reason for disqualification was only the cast selection which is, I think, not part of those things to be censored. What was the problem with the director’s or casting director’s choosing Alan Paule or Joy Viado? I don’t see any wrong about it. What is clear about it is that they (the Cinemalaya Monitoring Committee which disqualified MNL 143) failed to give Emerson Reyes, the director, a freedom of expression.

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