Honor Thy Father full movie review - Overwhelming Atmosphere
Honor Thy Father is a heist film. That is all you need to know about its plot. But the movie is apparently more than just plot.
It mainly explores a world of desperation, a commentary about oppression and greed, the theme of family and the reality of facing consequences. All of these are written in one very simple storyline and to be honest, it does it all perfectly and even beyond what it should be. The film takes us to this atmosphere and delivers it with a powerful effect in every moment. The filmmaking is masterful, the tension is subtle, the performances are down-to-earth tremendous; this is how you ultimately define a true great movie of the year.
The movie begins with its characters unable to escape from a serious trouble they put into themselves. We also see the ironies of this world where a person who came from a dirty past has more sense of generosity than some religious group that is supposed to be a representation of humility. But the big picture here is we live in a complex world, where you don't exactly know who is good or bad and what exactly is right or wrong. What matters is you survive. We explore these lives in total bleakness, where you felt that everything is under control by meaningless oppression, which makes you empathize these characters despite of their choices. This isn't quite a new story or lesson to tell, but its context and how the film puts these things together are what makes it brilliant. The pacing may be slower compared to director Matti's other crime thriller, OTJ, but the momentum is still felt, as the plot moves forward with a consistent slow burn.
One of the remarkable things around is the tension, like you can feel that bad things are meant to happen at every turn. It also helps that the score gets louder whenever things really get too far. The camera also shoots these moment by simply establishing the whole atmosphere of a particular sequence. But then, everything about the camera-work is strikingly terrific. The exterior shots are undeniably gorgeous, while everything else is just spot-on. The acting is no different from the quality of its filmmaking. Putting John Lloyd Cruz's talent outside from his romantic film mold proves that there is truly more to this actor than what we usually see from him. He presents whatever this role is feeling even at his quietest moments and what makes it remarkable is how natural he performs. No matter what situation he is facing, it makes the characters a lot easier to get inserted into.
There should be more local films like Honor Thy Father. I mean, the experience stands quite differently, even compared to many independent local films that you may usually encounter. How the story moves forward is expertly paced, the performances are authentic, the cinematography is obviously beautiful, the suspense is unpredictable and the themes and commentary are just powerfully represented. Yeah, the story is quite simple, but again, it just takes the advantage of true cinema and beyond, resulting a breathtaking gritty drama of which could have been just another crime thriller.