Amigo Review and Trailer

The Philippine-American war is, admittedly, a war I know little of and John Sayles‘ (writer/director) attempt at a dramatic re-enactment served more as a detriment towards my enlightenment on the entire affair than it did a benefit.

Apparently, the film takes place in a parallel universe during the year 1900, where everybody inhabiting the muddy village dons cleaner clothes than a Macy’s window display.  After US soldiers, in search of Philippine guerrillas, take occupation of the cleanest third world village ever, they succumb to fits of trite, overacted musical cues and bad editing.  At some point during the film’s two-hour occupation of my time, the actors portraying Americans begin to blend into the scenery, thus allowing for the villagers drama to unfold.

The villager’s drama is such that their Head, Rafael (Joel Torre), must juggle the responsibilities of protecting his people from the Americans, restoring order in his community, and not revealing his guerrilla brothers’ whereabouts.  Psst, he’s in a cave in the forest.

Due to the surprising lack of strong filmmaking techniques being applied, I walked away from this movie numb with disbelief.  How could the same filmmaker who finely tuned such films as Matewan(1987) and Lone Star(1996) be the one responsible for what I just watched?  On paper, I’m sure the script is oozing with dramatic tension, suspense and insight, but this execution of words to film are, to be kind, disappointing.

What is most unfortunate about this film is that the movie industry has hardly, if ever, attempted to bring to light such a significant moment of history. Whether the film’s objective was to be an historic account of events or early 20th Century Shakespearean dramatic fodder mattered not. Either way, I had a hard time taking anything in this film seriously.  With the exception of the village’s farm animals, the village setting, and Chris Cooper’s small role as Colonel Hardacre, absolutely nobody or anything in this film had any effect on me whatsoever.

Thank you very much, John Sayles.   Now I can feel confident in adding my two cents at the next dinner party conversation when the topic of the Philippine-American war arises.  I’ll just say, “Oh yeah, you mean that war where everybody ironed and washed their clothes before fighting.  Good times.”

Amigo opens in San Francisco Friday, August 19th at UA Stonestown Twin (Behind the mall)

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Categories: Reviews

One Comment on “Amigo Review and Trailer”

  1. August 17, 2011 at 7:31 pm #

    Most amusing!

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