By JESSICA MAUREEN P. GAURANO
LIFE HAS always been a never-ending struggle to stay alive. However, at one point in everybody’s lives, man will always find himself moving closer towards the edge of his end. Riding in Tandem, an entry for this month’s Cinelokal, offers an answer as to where justice is written in this world manipulated by money and power.
The story unfolds with Miguel (Jason Abalos), a former military officer who is dismissed from work because he is accused of having involvement in an illegal act. With nothing to support his family, he decides to work as an assassin under a syndicate. Meanwhile, in a slum area in Manila, Jonard (Khalil Ramos), a young tricycle driver who is trying to cope with the unjust death of his older sister, is faced with an inevitable circumstance that causes his fate to intertwine with Miguel’s, and eventually the two form an unlikely relationship.
What is most commendable about this film is that it excellently sheds light on some of the biggest issues that our country faces at the present such as contractualization, drug smuggling, and murder. Although the film’s plot seems to suggest the idea that the cost of justice is not blood, there is this diverse range of ideas flowing through the entirety of the whole film. With too much story to tell, the supposed-to-be linear storyline becomes an incessant ray of arrows pointing in different directions, confusing the viewers as to where the story will lead them.
Another commendable feature about this film is the way the angle shots gives emphasis on the setting and captures the very essence of the film. As it shifts from one scene to another, the film shows the different angles of Manila which contributes to the action feel of the film. Simultaneously, the camera’s movement projects this feeling of adrenalin rush and intimacy among the viewers because of how it presented the shadowed corners of the city clustered and wide at the same time. The overlooking view of the city establishes the fact that no matter how hard one tries to hide, one will always get caught eventually because no one gets away with crimes without a price. However, during almost every action scene, the camera transcends slowly which sets off the intensity of the moment.
Director Toto Natividad successfully establishes the different faces of injustice projected in the different shadows of Manila through the story of two men. The viewers get a glimpse as to how immorality moves in the society today. Through its simple yet complex plot, the film formulates an impactful message to its viewers that the injustice is never told in the narrative of a gunfire. F