Bil’s rating (out of 5): B.
France/Philippines/Germany/United Kingdom, 2012. Swift Productions, Arte France Cinéma, Centerstage Productions, B.A. Produktion, Studio Eight Productions, Films Distribution, Appaloosa Films, Unilimited, Canal+, Arte France. Screenplay by Brillante Mendoza, Patrick Bancarel, Boots Agbayani Pastor, Arlyn dela Cruz. Cinematography by Odyssey Flores. Produced by Brillante Mendoza. Music by Teresa Barrozo. Production Design by Simon Legre, Benjamin Padero. Costume Design by Deans Habal. Film Editing by Yves Deschamps, Kats Serraon. Berlin Film Festival 2012.
Reportedly based on a true story, this feckless drama has Filipino Muslim terrorists capture tourists and social workers and hold them hostage beginning in the months leading up to September 11, 2001, releasing them only as their own individual countries or families pay their ransom. Among them is a French aid worker (Isabelle Huppert) who experiences almost two years of hostility and dirty living in the southeast Asian jungle without seeing friends or family, while at the same time trying to stay hopeful when viewing other women around her being forced into Muslim conversion and married off to the armed men who guard them. Brillante Mendoza’s practically illiterate direction has no method for creating drama or suspense for two long hours, in a film which never manages to create a sense of passing time, goes nowhere near investigating its characters and focuses instead on endless scenes of brutality as if to make up for the fact that it has no narrative progression. Huppert is her usual excellent self, and hopefully enjoyed spending a couple of months being paid to film a movie in a tropical location, but she seems about as clueless as everyone else in what is without a doubt an unmitigated failure.