Tokyo Film Review: ‘Mindanao’

  • Variety
Tokyo Film Review: ‘Mindanao’
Filipina actor, TV star, reality show host and social media queen Judy Ann Santos turns in a de-glammed, gently anguished, remarkably sympathetic performance in “Mindanao,” the latest title from prolific Filipino director Brillante Mendoza. Her watchability, however, comes despite a storytelling approach that is undercut by several unconvincing directorial decisions — chief among them the insertion of animated interludes that outline an only tangentially illuminating story of the princes and dragons who, legend has it, used to roam the eponymous region.

Mindanao, the second largest island in the Philippine archipelago, has a troubled recent history beset by decades of conflict, and the 2017 declaration of island-wide martial law still stands. But despite a contextualizing opening note to that effect, it’s difficult to discern if there’s a political or social point Mendoza is trying to make; commentary about this fraught situation takes a deep back seat to the maudlin and manipulative main storyline,
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