Birdshot Movie Review

Stupid comedies and loveteam vehicle movies have put me off from watching any Pinoy film since forever. But a new breed of directors and studios are daring to to make movies unlike any Filipino audience has seen in a long while. Movies like Heneral Luna, Saving Sally, and now Birdshot.

First things first: Birdshot is an absolutely gorgeous film. Director Mikhail Red's cinematography begs to be ruminated. From sweeping shots of the Philippine countryside to the dark and gritty confines where human corruption dwells, Birdshot yields so much good imagery that I wouldn't be surprised if it was featured on Every Frame a Painting.

The cast is great, portraying Birdshot's multi-layered narrative on the loss of innocence in many different ways. Mary Joy Apostol shines as the mysterious and captivating Maya, the daughter of a local caretaker, who yearns for more than this provincial life and whose actions drive the story to its intense conclusion. Apostol holds her own even in the presence of guys like John Arcilla, who plays grey-area operating cop Mendoza, and Arnold Reyes who portrays Domingo, Mendoza's rookie partner whose morals will be tested every step of the way.

I quite liked the story, even if some parts were too enigmatic for my tastes. But if you stick around, you'll find yourself so engrossed in the mystery until it's too late to look away. Birdshot tackles corruption and police brutality, real issues with real victims, in a compelling way. And if my Facebook feed is any indication, Birdshot is here to hang a heavy lampshade over all of it.

But Birdshot's verve to portray both beauty and truth may be its one glaring weakness. Mikhail Red loves his cinematic shots a bit too much, sacrificing story clarity for a few more shots of those gorgeous Isabela plains, or letting a particularly mysterious subject linger on-screen way past your threshold of caring. I guess I like my stories a bit more succinct, but I feel it would have served Birdshot's story more if it chose the more impactful route in its cinematography.

Despite its missteps, Birdshot elevates modern Philippine cinema in ways that current popular fare frustratingly refuse to match. With movies like Saving Sally, Heneral Luna, and now Birdshot showing moviegoers what Pinoys are actually capable of, it's high time that quality Philippine movies stop being as endangered as the haribon and start getting the attention they deserve.

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