NYAFF XIX Review: Rae Red’s THE GIRL AND THE GUN Is A High-Caliber Emotional Gut Punch
A young sales clerk (Janine Gutierrez) is under appreciated at work and faces soul crushing challenges both professionally and emotionally in the big city. After a horrific event at work, she finds a revolver that changes her demeanor, giving her confidence and a way to even the odds in a misogynistic and cruel world. All the while she is unaware that the gun has had a dark journey of its own before finding itself in her hands.
The solo debut feature by director Rae Red, The Girl and the Gun is the story of both the girl AND the gun in an intertwining tale that calls to mind similar crime films using a nonlinear storytelling format. Dripping with style, as well as featuring a powerfully devastating performance by the excellent and doe-eyed Gutierrez, this feature is an enthrallingly dark and gritty tale of the darkness that violence begets as well as how a legacy of blood can go beyond that of mere lineage.
At times shocking and more than a little hard to watch, The Girl And The Gun truly pulls no punches. Set in the dark crime ridden Quezon City, violence is prevalent and innocence lost on a regular basis. The challenges we see as Gutierrez makes her journey in the film are telling of both the current state of the country as well as the societal cracks that allow such grimness to permeate a population ultimately at the mercy of those in power.
Gutierrez’s path as she attempts to take back at least with some control in a wild and lawless world the odds immediately stacked against her is one that will ingratiate you immediately. Quietly empathetic moments with her roommate as well as the quiet moments highlighting her loneliness show a sensitive character that has been broken down by the world but hasn’t quiet yet given up. It’s a complex role to be sure but one that certainly had me invested.
The second arc features the origin of the titular pistol and features a dark performance by JC Santos as a police officer with history with the gun and a group of young criminals with little in the way of prospects to survive or escape their situation. This interlude ramps up slowly; it takes a bit before you get anywhere near the level of investment as the first act, but the carefully written and telling moments that highlight the familial nature and hopes and dreams of these young men can really help to earn your support. As events come full circle, we end in a tense finale that will put our female lead in the spotlight as she must decide just what she is going to do with her newfound power and equalizer.
In the end, The Girl and the Gun tells an intimate and fairly mean story about how awful life can be and the things we may try to change but cannot. This first exposure to the work of Rae Red is a telling one however and I expect great things to come if this stunning debut is any indication. While it doesn’t do anything utterly unique, this new voice in Filipino cinema is definitely one to look out for.
Read more of Cesar Alejandro Jr.’s reviews at Filmsmash.com
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Long time film lover and occasional writer. I watch anything and everything though I have massive love for the works of Shunji Iwai, Jackie Chan, Johnnie To, and Kinji Fukasaku. POP! POP! Find more of me at filmsmash.com!
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