Previously at the ICA - Films
16 Oct 2009
'Dante' Mendoza's devastating new movie generated as much controversy at Cannes (where it won the Best Director prize) as the von Trier and Noé movies did, but Kinatay is not at all an exercise in shock-for-shock's-sake. Soon after police cadet Peping (played by Coco Martin, a fixture in Mendoza's films ever since The Masseur) marries his partner Cecille - they already have a newborn child - he's pressed into joining an after-hours plain-clothes raid led by a renegade sergeant. The target turns out to be a bargirl/hooker known as Madonna, seized and driven to the gang's safe house. As they drive through Manila's mean night streets, though, Peping realises with mounting horror that he's about to become an accessory to murder.
The film is based on a real-life incident, but it effortlessly transcends the limitations of docu-drama. By focusing on Peping's escalating panic and revulsion, much of it presented in real time, Mendoza brings home what it means to be trapped as a witness to atrocious events - a situation that's becoming almost commonplace in the world of 2009. He could have quoted Céline and called it 'Journey to the End of the Night'.
dir Brillante Mendoza, Philippines/France 2009, 110 mins