Monday, 10 June 2019

Sydney Film Festival (9) - Brillante Ma Mendoza's ALPHA: THE RIGHT TO KILL

Brillante Ma Mendoza continued the revived Sydney Film Festival tradition of audience participation noted in the reports about the screening of Marighella which you can find if you click here  and here

There was some shouting in the theatre at one stage and then just before the end a group got up from the front rows and headed out. Those who exited after the end were met by presumably that same group silently holding up anti-Duterte signs. Not much of a gauntlet to run but still this sort of thing could get out of hand. Just joking….

Mendoza’s film is rather all that Wagner Moura’s film isn’t. It focuses on the now and notwithstanding the laughable title that comes up immediately at the end of the film that it doesn’t relate to any person or event, it’s clearly focused on the police and their efforts to follow Duterte’s orders to put drug dealers, users and anyone associated with drugs immediately out of their misery. 

It does this by focusing right at the top of the police tree  and bookends its narrative with shots of a police parade which at the end we learn is there to bestow medals on the top guys pursuing the President’s agenda.

Brillante Ma Mendoza
In amongst them are the inevitable snitch, a poor guy eking out a living with a wife and baby to look after and a middle aged cop who runs the ops, steals the drugs and (spoiler alert) kills the snitch when it appears he will be exposed. He has to protect his image as a paragon of virtue, as demonstrated when he gets elected to the local infant school committee.

The only fantasy is at the  near end when the corrupt cop (spoiler alert) is gunned down in revenge presumably by representatives of the drug trade. Unlikely you feel given the overwhelming might of the force being brought to bear and the amount of death and destruction of the poor that is indulged in.

Strong stuff indeed and rather a pity that it was stuck away down at the Dendy Opera Quays and only drew a modest crowd. Maybe it had already packed out its previous screening at Event 5.

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