Mindanao: MMFF Movie Review

Powerful and moving performances cannot save a film without solid storytelling. Sadly, "Mindanao" failed to be cohesive and failed to execute its plan to be anything but average.
Muslim woman Saima Datupalo (Judy Ann Santos) is alone taking care of her cancer-stricken daughter (Yuna Tangog) in the hope that she survives the disease while her husband is away fighting rebels in Mindanao.
"Mindanao" tried to interweave three stories into one narrative. One of Saima, a mother who is on the verge of losing her child to cancer. One of her husband, who is struggling to balance his duty as a soldier and a father at the same time. Last of Raja and Sulayman, a Mindanao folk story about two brothers battling to save the island from evil dragons. We get what the narrative was trying to accomplish but it failed to gel together and was abruptly ending scenes cutting any emotional and dramatic ties with it. These mini stories, if we're being blunt, felt forced. The latter of these plot points felt unnecessary until the very last scene. Worst of all, we just couldn't get why it was named "Mindanao" at the end of the day. Is it our fault for thinking this was going to be about the region of its namesake, culture, beauty, and conflicts our marginalized Filipino countrymen are facing there everyday? Unfortunately, the film's elements about Mindanao were fleeting and shallow at best. As expected, the film's biggest selling point were its actors. Not only Judy Ann Santos but the rest of the cast. They still found a way to make a very messy narrative emotionally work. 
Rating: 3 reels

Why you should watch it:
- moving and dramatic performances from the cast

Why you shouldn't watch it:
- poor execution and a messy narrative made this a very frustrating experience
- lacks any substantial effort to actually showcase its namesake, Mindanao

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