January 2, 2016
This deadly serious film was tops for most critics list to be the Best Picture of the current Metro Manila Film Festival. However, a day before the awards night last December 27, this film was notoriously disqualified from competing for Best Picture because of its alleged nondisclosure that it had been the opening film of the CinemaOne Originals filmfest last November. Oddly however, it was still okay to compete in the other categories. Its newspaper ads proudly declares its disqualification as one of the reasons why this film had to be seen.
Edgar was an outsider living among the rich folk of Baguio City, silently watching on the sidelines as his sociable wife Kaye brought home the bacon by inviting investors in a get-rich-quick scheme hatched by her father. Eventually, his wife's foolish activities plunge them into dire and dangerous straits. Pushed to extreme desperation, Edgar had to swallow his pride, go back to the past he left behind in order to try and save his family.
To simply say that John Lloyd Cruz went out of his comfort zone to play Edgar would be an understatement. There was nothing romantic nor comedic about his performance here. Of course, his leading man looks and carriage do somehow get in the way of being convincing as a Bontoc miner, but Cruz was completely committed to his character and we all felt it. It was disappointing that he was not rewarded with the Best Actor Award. While Jericho Rosales was not bad in "#Walang Forever," he did not go through the harrowing wringer Cruz had to go through to do "Honor Thy Father."
Meryll Soriano (as Kaye) effectively reflected their family's fall from grace on her expressive face. This performance should have been recognized with an award. Krystal Brimmer was very brave to play Angel, the young daughter innocently caught in the perilous web her parents got themselves into.
Director Erik Matti made it so stifling and uncomfortable from beginning to end. The immaculately white scenes of the church services were clearly satirical of organized religion. Tirso Cruz III's award-winning performance of the head preacher reeked with deluded hypocrisy. The scene when the house was ransacked and that one in the bank stand out because of their outstandingly heart-stopping tension with its editing of images and sound effects. Only during that remarkably calm scene of Edgar with his mother (played with dignity by Perla Bautista) can we breathe for a moment, but it was all too brief.
"Honor Thy Father" was relentlessly bleak down to its uncertain ending, yes, yet you know you are witnessing something extraordinary. 8/10.