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film review

British director Sean Ellis travels to the Philippines to tell the story of Oscar Ramirez, a down-on-his-luck farmer who flees the countryside with his family to look for a brighter future in the bustling, overwhelming metropolis of Manila. Oscar believes he has caught a break when he is offered steady work for an armored truck company where his kind and gregarious partner Ong (John Arcilla) takes him under his wing

Winner of the Sundance Film Festival's World Audience Award and the Best British Independent film of 2013, the British-made, Philippine-set drama Metro Manila (the name of the greater Manila area) is proof that you can't go wrong with the same old story.

Oscar Ramirez (Jake Macapagal), a poor farmer from the rice fields of Banaue, takes his wife, Mai (Althea Vega), and two daughters to Manila in hopes of a better life. After they have been scammed out of their savings, she takes a job in a girlie bar and he works for an armoured truck company under the dubious mentorship of senior officer, Ong (John Arcilla).

Co-written and directed with panache by England's Sean Ellis, Metro Manila is a familiar melodrama crossed with a standard crime thriller, somewhat freshened by the heart-tugging sincerity of actors Macapagal and Vega as the country mice caught in the big-city trap.