Jerrold Tarog’s “Heneral Luna” comes out of nowhere from a deluge of films about exes and mistresses. Going against the grain could be its asset or worse, if most filmgoers’ taste would still not change, it could be its failure. But I remain positive on this one. The story of “Heneral Luna” is culled directly from both history and imagination which translates to a work like nothing else that is shown on Philippine Cinema today. Rarely does a movie remind me of a rage that is solely dedicated to the ills of a guilt-ridden country like the Philippines. Fear of the radical, submission to blind faith, commitment over consequences—these are just a fraction of the many historical issues that rings true in the present. At times the film is burdened by its ambition and attempts at grandeur, its storytelling could’ve been tighter, but like its title character played with admirable dedication by John Arcilla, the movie trudges on to a solid, gut-wrenching third act that leaves you silenced until the end credits roll. It is bold, sometimes surprisingly funny, even risky, and is not ashamed of wearing its patriotic heart on its sleeve. Tarog’s visual mastery is on full display here, and that short flashback montage with Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata grabs me by the cuffs and tells me this movie is something really, really special. For anyone planning to visit the cinemas these days, I urge you to watch this one. It’s an eye-opener. It’s for your own good.
[ photo borrowed from this site ]