Rated R

Joel Torre stars as Rafael, the head of a Filipino barrio occupied by American forces during the Philippine-American War in the early 1900s. He is torn between helping the U.S. troops combat guerilla fighters, and helping his brother, Simon (Ronnie Lazaro)—who just so happens to be the leader of a group of guerillas. Written and directed by John Sayles, the film gets almost everything right on a production level: The direction is flawless; the setting is gorgeous; the acting is decent. However, the content is not very interesting. There are too many subplots that lead nowhere, as well as numerous long, boring conversations. There’s no real character development, and people come off merely as shells for the actors to fill. Everyone puts as much into it as they can, but the script is far too lacking for them to save it. The film and its location are amazing to look at, however, and the good moments here and there make it bearable.

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