Director Ron Morales, whose previous film, Santa Mesa, debuted at Reel Asian in 2009, represents one in an increasing line of Asian American directors choosing to make films in Asia. Transplanting familiar American genres onto new and exciting locations for a broad audience, Morales returns to Reel Asian with this thrilling noir that puts an average man in extraordinary and desperate situations.
Marlon Villar is a pious family man who minds his own business, takes care of his daughter Elvie and visits his bed-ridden wife at the hospital every night. He holds down a day job as a chauffeur for a powerful politician named Chango. Marlon’s world rips apart one day when he becomes a target of a botched kidnapping and ransom plot against Chango and his daughter is kidnapped instead of Chango’s. As the sole witness, Marlon becomes tangled between the kidnappers and Chango, and must traverse Manila’s seedy underground networks of corruption, prostitution and murder in order to get his daughter back before it is too late.
Morales’ well-researched film takes us to truly unseemly places, daring to push the limits of where we are willing to let our imagination roam. Yet his intention is never to titillate; instead, he draws us into Marlon’s spiraling desperation. An audience favourite at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival, where it premiered, Graceland asks us, how far would we go to save those we love?