Baby Nebrida’s “Across the Crescent Moon” has an engrossing story enhanced by a lot of interesting action sequences from car chase to running gun battles.
It begins with such bristling action that for a while, you think you are in for a riveting action movie with exotic Mindanao setting.
But it is only the icing on the cake as it zeroes in on two families with Muslim and Christian backgrounds.
The mother of the character of Alex Godinez (Dina Bonnevie) is deadset on her conviction that she could not stand a Muslim for a son-in-law. Godinez speaks her mind and will not have any of her mother’s religious nonsense.
And as the film moves on, you see the contrast between Christian and Muslim families.
True enough, the theme of interfaith relationship is judiciously touched and reinforced by fairly good performances by Dina Bonnevie, Christopher de Leon, Gabby Concepcion and Joem Bascon, among others.
A strange sense of déjà vu hits you when you realize the PNP chief in the movie looks very much like the real person from Camp Crame, bald and all.
One scene shows the matriarch (Bonnevie) cheering President Duterte’s anti-crime speech on television with a line, “Go, get those criminals.”
Meanwhile, the issue of human trafficking is tackled as the kidnapping scenes unfold. As you watch the drinking scenes of the drug lords and human traffickers, it sometimes felt as though you were watching a scene from “FPJ’s Ang Probinsiyano.”
The films wraps up after the rescue scenes with devotional music from an ensemble and choir filling up the screen.
True enough, the musical scoring of Von de Guzman stands out with the theme song with basic melody supplied by Nebrida. It succeeds in giving the film a deep religious outlook.
Matteo Guidicelli doesn’t disappoint as the Muslim SAF agent, Abbas Misani. With good writing, his role could have been expanded and delineated with more action and less dialogue. But to be fair, his big potential as action star is indeed highly promising in this film.
But on the whole, it is the less insightful writing that makes the film long-winded and too complicated for comfort.
For one, the screenplay is a bit talky with some characters almost always sounding like characters from a school play.
Moreover, Christopher de Leon was a perfect Muslim patriarch with wife Sandy Andolong. One had a hard time sizing up the character of Alex Godinez who sounds pretty much like a character from a Repertory play.
With its treatment of interfaith relationships and conflicts between Christian and Muslims, the film has echoes of Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s “Bagong Buwan.”
Nebrida showed exceptional capability in handling action scenes including the family confrontation scenes.
But through it all, one has the impression the dialogues in her screenplay are still fresh from the laptop and could use some good rewriting. One could hear the sound of keyboard in her writing with more insights on the characters still waiting to be re-written.
On the other hand, it is a good film to watch when you want to find out why screenplays succeed and why at times they falter.
One left the theater wondering what was amiss even with those action scenes that actually helped improve the pace of the story.
But one must end by saying one liked the highly revealing cultural contrasts -- given in the heated exchange between the characters of Godinez and Bonnevie – between the followers of the Christian Bible and the Holy Koran.
It served as a good reminder about a lot of misconceptions about the Muslim faith.
But “Across the Crescent Moon” is not a bad movie. The story is inspiring, the acting fairly good and the direction quite inspired.
“Across the Crescent Moon” now showing in cinemas.