Amigo (2010)

I had the opportunity to watch this movie from American director (and writer) John Sayles at the BFI London Film Festival.

At the ticket booth this nice guy told me he hoped I would enjoy the movie because it was exotic. I assumed he meant it was intriguingly unusual or different; excitingly strange…and I wasn’t disappointed. 

The movie is about the Philippine/American War that took place between 1899 and 1902, and that many people don’t know about, even in the U.S. I have to admit I had never heard of it. You will find out that the way Americans fight their wars seems to have stayed the same; that could be a story in Afghanistan or Iraq, or Vietnam…I’m not making comments on if I agree to the methods or not, but you can see the spirit is the same. In that aspect, this movie becomes a universal tale about war. 

With a low budget Sayles was able to make a very good movie. Perfect cast and a great script will keep you interested all through the movie. What I really enjoyed was how the story is approached from all perspectives: the American occupants, the villagers and anyone else caught in-between. You see good people and bad people, acts of courage and weakness. 

Among the actors, I especially liked the performances of Garret Dillahunt as the lieutenant of the American forces and Yul Vazquez, portraying the priest from the village, proving once more that you don’t need “big stars” to make a good movie. 

After the screening we had a chance to talk to the director, who told us that the events portrayed in the movie are not fictional, but several well-documented episodes all put together. So, don’t always believe IMDB, where it is called “A fictional account of events during the Philippine-American War”. 

Sadly and according to John Sayles, there is no distribution for this movie right now anywhere in the world apart from the Philippines, where it will be possible to see it next summer. 

Green light! (if you can find it)

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