Honor Thy Father is a relatable, smart, beautifully shot, gritty drama about human fallibility thanks to a lean well written script, cinematography, and great performances from its cast. 

A man is forced to revisit his dark past to save his family from financial ruin after getting blindly involved in a ponzi scheme.

In life, everything is not what it seems. Honor Thy Father takes this familiar theme and delivers a gritty drama about hypocrisy hidden underneath civility.

After a slow burn that establishes its world and its characters, you’ll be thrown into a propulsive plot about a man who left his shady past only to discover people just like him. The ex conman proves to be more generous than a religious organization whose fervent supporters continue to donate thousands of pesos despite its blatant opulence. They’re intentions are also questionable, are they donating out of devotion or is it because of the attention and praise?

This moral ambiguity pervades throughout the film. There are no heroes and villains in this story, only people who are trying to protect what they value the most no matter what it takes. As what you would expect from an indie movie, cinematography and musical score are used to build the right tone and visuals.

The muted color palette paints a bleak world while showcasing the post card perfect landscape of Baguio. Deep focus effects, close-ups and sound design provide perspective. In one scene, a wide angle shot shows a funeral procession from a distance as mourners make their way up the steps of a graveyard etched at the side of a hill. In another, the echoing voices of panic amplifies tension while also conveying what’s going through Edgar’s head as he tries to pull off a robbery on his own.

The lead character is played by John Lloyd Cruz. He looks more like a guy who grew up in the city rather than the mountains, but he compensates this with a naturalistic performance. The supporting cast chips in with great performances too, with Meryl Soriano providing a tender earnest role and Tirso Cruz III proving that he’s perfectly casted as the Bishop.

While off to a great start, the movie falters by the second half. The burglary turned robbery doesn’t live up to the suspense leading to it. The supposed pay-off is rushed and filled with plot holes. Overall, an incisive social commentary is cut off by an uneventful heist.

Still, it can be said that Honor Thy Father offers a solid first half that creates characters you want to root for. Edgar’s action are not unwarranted and the plot methodically builds up to deliver a convincing story of a desperate man caught in a desperate situation.

In the end the movie shows that we’re all in an uncompromising world, where people who just want to survive can end up creating complications that are out of their control. It’s a harsh bitter truth, but real nonetheless.

My Rating: 8/10

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