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  • 4.0
In this unpredictable and tightly-paced thriller, family man Marlon Villa (a longtime chauffeur to corrupt Filipino politician Manuel Chango) is faced with an unthinkable predicament when he gets ambushed while driving both his boss's twelve year-old girl and his own daughter home from school one afternoon. In the chaos of the kidnapping attempt, things go horribly awry and Marlon's daughter is taken and held for ransom instead. Desperate to save his daughter, Marlon must navigate the conflicting motives between the ruthless kidnappers, untrustworthy Chango and determined detectives eager to name him a suspect without letting on the wrong girl was taken hostage. As events progress wildly unaccording to plan, Marlon, Chango and their families are forced into a rapid downward spiral of deceit and betrayal that will leave no one innocent.

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1 member likes this review

Excellent gritty suspense film from the Philippines. Subject matter including pedophilia and prostitution may be too strong a subject for some viewers.

top reviewer
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Member Reviews (8)

top reviewer

Excellent gritty suspense film from the Philippines. Subject matter including pedophilia and prostitution may be too strong a subject for some viewers.

1 member likes this review
top reviewer

A taut thriller with disturbing themes (warning: these include sex crimes and violence against children) and great photography in some seriously grimy locations. The ominous soundtrack adds to the feeling of encroaching dread. Occasionally hard to watch due to the depravity of the themes, but, if you tell yourself it's only a movie, the complex plot and other positives mentioned above make it worth watching.

top reviewer

Convoluted tale of extortion,double crosses and murder set in an oftentimes squalled and oppressive atmosphere. Nice sound score and cinematography and fine direction make Graceland not your typical thriller. Karma strikes back suddenly!

top reviewer

it didn't grab me at first_but Marlon & Elvie are both wonderful this synopsis isn't really all that accurate but the film does have a lot of twists & turns_after a dead start it gets better & a lot of it is visually cool

top reviewer

Ron Morales' Graceland (2012) is a very well executed, and very complex film that doesn't fit neatly into one of the simple pigeon holes of "genre".

This film is certainly a "crime thriller" that will keep you emotionally "on the edge of your seat" all the way through. The crime narrative is rather innovative too, with lots of unexpected twists.

Yet, because this film is set in the Philippines, the filmmaker is offered a unique opportunity to concurrently create an effective "social criticism" film about life in a desperately poor, and undeveloped nation as well. This filmmaker creates much social criticism by skillfully framing certain select scenes that silently speak volumes of social criticism simply because the images portrayed would be just morally outrageous to the average viewer.

This film is also a very deep, and insightful character study of the protagonist, a very poor, and very uneducated man, but a man who seems to have a good heart, and solid moral values, but yet a man who must compromise himself on a daily basis by committing unspeakable acts every day, just as a matter of course, for the physical, and economic survival of himself and his family.

The most unique aspect of this film for me was the stunning coup de theatre near the end of the film, that made it necessary for me to reinterpret the whole story up to that point, to formulate a new answer to the question: "What is going on in this film?" for myself. As mentally and emotionally unsettling as this sudden revelation of facts about the story was for me so close to the end of the film, it was a very interesting, and very refreshing, and unique film viewing experience for me as well.

Overall, I would say that Ron Morales is a very good filmmaker, with a real grasp on what it takes to make not only a film with artistic merit, but a film that is commercially viable as well. This filmmaking neophyte really deserves the opportunity to make many more films.

top reviewer

Graceland is one of the most unique, exciting, thriller films I've seen in close to a decade. The film is about a man who is a chauffeur to a top politician in the Philippines. The film unfolds with a plot to kidnap the daughter of the politician, however, at the time of the abduction, the daughter, and the chauffeurs daughter are both in the car, things heat up when one of the girls is killed. Its a high paced roller coaster ride from beginning to end. It's been a long time since I've felt such adrenaline, and this film is just that, one adrenaline ride from beginning to end.

mixed feeling s - sometimes disturbing - no my favorite

Moving, original and definitely worth the watch