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Cavite

Co-directors Neill Dela Llana and Ian Gamazon’s jugular thriller plays like a no-budget, guerrilla-style variant on Hollywood’s recent Cellular, with the caveat that Cavite is actually good. When Adam (Gamazon), a young Filipino-American night watchman, travels from San Diego to Manila to attend his father’s funeral, no sooner does he arrive than he finds himself a puppet on the string of a terrorist organization that claims to have kidnapped his mother and sister. What follows is nearly as taut from a political standpoint as it is from a narrative one, as Adam scurries through bustling marketplaces, menacing back alleys and poverty-stricken shantytowns, frantically obeying the sinister orders barked at him by a voice at the other end of a cell-phone connection. Adam’s unseen tormentor isn’t purely a sadist — he wants to open the Westerner’s eyes to the harsh social realities of contemporary life in the Philippines, with its lingering vestiges of U.S. imperialism. As you stagger out of the theater after 78 breathless minutes of Gamazon and Dela Llana’s electrifying location shooting and disquieting insights into Christian-Islamic tensions, you may well feel that your eyes have been opened too. (Nuart)

—Scott Foundas


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