Mina-Anud director Kerwin Go (center) with stars Jerald Napoles (left) and Dennis Trillo
Photo from Kerwin Go's Instagram
Mina-Anud: A promising start for Kerwin Go
Lanz Aaron Tan (The Philippine Star) - August 23, 2019 - 12:00am

Film review: Mina-Anud

MANILA, Philippines — Bold in its inspired storytelling but mired in its confused tonality, director Kerwin Go injects Mina-Anud with an urgency often absent from summer entertainment. The plot, inspired by true events, centers on two aspiring surfers on Mina-Anud island — the vigilant Ding (Dennis Trillo) and inexpedient Carlo (Jerald Napoles) — who stumble on an opportunity to vault themselves into opulence when blocks of cocaine wash ashore their beach.

At the film’s core is a moral story of friendship; because of their juxtaposing personalities, the surfers’ bond largely rides on their business successes, so the audience follows their rise and inevitable fall. It’s this polar friendship, reminiscent of Curtis Hanson’s L.A. Confidential, that carries the movie’s emotional heft: The characters never feel like mindless criminals, but rather empathetic people tossed into indefatigable circumstances, making questionable but mostly understandable decisions. Trillo in particular gives a weighty performance through his character’s trials, anger and paranoia. 

The primary antagonist, Officer Julian (Alvin Anson), isn’t given the same emotional depth as the film’s leads, but serves his purpose as a brute, destabilizing force. The Dutch angle that introduces him to the island is telling of an almost foreign presence distorting the island’s dynamics and threatening Carlo and Ding’s friendship.

However, some of the film’s emotional payoffs are diluted by a mismanaged tone. For a story with such gravitas, some levity is expected — especially in a black comedy — but Go traverses too far into the burlesque. The fishermen who discover the cocaine provide much of the film’s zany slapstick, which is there in droves for those who enjoy it, but these scenes feel distanced from the central story. Black comedies like Iñárritu’s Birdman aren’t comedic in the conventional sense — they find success walking the tightrope between terrifying and ridiculous. Mina-Anud could have been a more balanced film had it been a crime-thriller, an approach Erik Matti used efficaciously in sculpting On The Job into a riveting drama.

However, by the film’s conclusion, Go proves he can handle dramatic moments with a revisionist ending and a strong central friendship. The film’s brave conclusion marks a bold direction for Regal Entertainment, now on its 57th year. Mina-Anud is an uneven take on crime comedy, but its story and themes are often effective, giving Regal’s newest discovery, Go, a sturdy foundation to launch an exciting future.

DENNIS TRILLO JERALD NAPOLES MINA-ANUD
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