Dir. Brillante Mendoza; Philippines/France; 2009; Crime/Thriller; Mercedes Cabral, Coco Martin; 105 mins
Sitges lists KINATAY as “a literal journey to hell and a paradigmatic example of hyper-realistic horror” and notes its Best Director Award at Cannes earlier this year.
The film, and its Cannes success, has attracted its fair share of critical attention. Scenes of a violent and all-too-realistic nature appear to be unnecessary or, at the least, take up too much screen time for some. Others perhaps accept the gruesome content (it is, after all, hinted that the story is a mirror of some of the current social aspects of Filipino life) but merely feel the film is not up to much, either technically or as a theatre filler.
I recall watching Bruno Dumont’s TWENTYNINEPALMS at Sitges in 2003 where, during post film pub reflection, I realised I had been intentionally dumbed down for 99% of the film (God was it boring) in order to intensify the slap I received in the closing scenes. As much as I disliked the 99% set-up, it was my first cinematic experience (that I was conscious of) of being manipulated in this way and I could at least see the reasoning why a director might strive for such an effect.
From the reviews it would appear that KINATAY, too, contains an element of calm before the storm, of ordinary deliberately preceding extraordinary, in order to intensify the viewer’s ultimate experience. This may be all well and good but, knowing CorridorStyle’s tastes as I do, I fear that this (can I say) “gimmick” alone will not be enough to allow KINATAY to creep onto the hallowed turf of the CS “must-see” list.
But hey, maybe that’s just us. See what others think……