Verdict: Value for Money

Pinoy Rebyu Score: 3.77 (11 ratings)

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Writer/Director: Ron Morales

Cast: Arnold Reyes, Menggie Cobarrubias, Dido dela Paz, Leon Miguel, Ella Guevara Villar, Marife Necesito, Patricia Gayod, Angeli Bayani, Archie Adamos, Angie Ferro

Synopsis: Family man Marlon Villar (Reyes) is the long-time driver of Manuel Chango (Cobarrubias), a corrupt Filipino congressman. One afternoon, while driving his and Chango’s preteen daughters home from school, the three are violently ambushed in a kidnapping attempt. When the attempt goes horribly awry, the wrong girl is taken, and the driver’s life takes a sudden, terrifying turn. Left as the only witness to the crime, Marlon’s loyalty is called into question. As events unravel further, he, Chango, and their families become ensnared in a downward spiral of betrayal and deceit that will ultimately leave no one innocent.

Running time: 84 mins

MTRCB Rating: R-18



5.0     Jason Domantay (Yahoo Philippines)

“Director Ron Morales succeeds in taking us into the bleak and dark world of Metro Manila and lets us smell the stench of rotten flesh in the dumps and taste the fear in the air.” (Read full review)

5.0     Katrina Stuart Santiago (GMA News)

“There is an earnestness to Graceland, an honesty if you will, that keeps the grit and grime of Manila, the poverty that is here, as fact.” (Read full review)

5.0     Alina Co (GMA News)

Graceland takes you to a bottomless pit, a labyrinth of moral decay, where Manila is at its darkest and seediest.” (Read full review)

4.5     Nel Costales (1505 Film Avenue)

“Blending political scandals, social issues, and Akira Kurosawa’s High and Low, the taut suspense thriller Graceland holds the audience in a vise-like grip.” (Read full review)

4.0     Stephanie Mayo (Films and Events Check)

Graceland provides an unpredictable, thrilling, and thought-provoking story, taking you right into the heart of the heavy, shocking, ills of our Third World country.” (Read full review)

4.0     Edwin Sallan (InterAksyon)

Graceland is a gripping thriller. At 84 minutes, even less if you subtract the lengthy closing credits, it makes the most out of its limited budget and is rapidly paced without sacrificing characterization and the back stories of the characters. Also, it was able to elicit fine performances from Arnold Reyes, Menggie Cobarubias and Dido Dela Paz, terrific character actors who don’t usually get a lot of screen time in their other films to make the kind of impact that they did here.”

3.5      Oggs Cruz (Twitch)

“Ron Morales dutifully weaves a sordid tale about desperate characters in an equally desperate city. The plot’s a stretch but the physical and spiritual dirt Morales draped Manila with makes everything else palatable and believable. Graceland mixes social realist grime with pulpy crime.”

3.0      Philbert Dy (Click the City)

“Gets a tad obvious, but is otherwise well plotted.”

3.0      Manuel Pangaruy (Tagailog Special)

“What’s good with this fast-paced crime drama is that it doesn’t preach excessively about corruption and poverty. It has a commentary but it moves on and focuses on the human struggle as something universal and relatable. Could be better if the lead character doesn’t cry a lot just to highlight the drama. Best part for me is the epilogue.”

2.5      Skilty Labastilla (Young Critics Circle)

“There’s something about Manila that inspires US-based Filipinos to make dark films involving crime and kidnapping. Neill dela Llana and Ian Gamazon made Cavite in 2005 and Benito Bautista helmed last year’s Boundary. In Graceland, Morales imagines a Manila where child prostitutes are readily accessible from a brothel and where a powerful pedophile congressman apparently has so few networks to save himself from eventual doom. The sun does not shine in this film’s Manila, and even in scenes shot during the day, the photography makes the city look dreary. As if child prostitution and kidnapping are not heavy enough, Morales throws in illegal organ trafficking just to make the viewer understand that Manila is indeed a hellhole. Disgraceland seems a more apt title. The film is taut and generally well-acted but I wish the premise hewed a little closer to reality.”

2.0       Mario Bautista (Showbiz Portal)

“Marred by poor character development and bad dialogue, you have to see the movie for yourself and pass judgment on whether you’d believe everything it’s saying.” (Read full review)

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