tv + film by Philbert Dy

Nothing Proactive Happens in ‘Higanti’

To parse this film’s themes is to find meaning in a pile of burning garbage.

NBHD movie 0 ticketHiganti opens on a flurry of vaguely kinetic images, with men on vehicles shooting firearms, before ending on a body floating in the water. Without any explanation, the movie jumps to its opening credits sequence, which displays a series of family photographs. This is the family of Congressman Alex Ariete (Jay Manalo), who at the start of the film has just gotten remarried. He was once married to businesswoman Leni (Assunta de Rossi), but their marriage fell apart for reasons that aren’t really properly discussed in the movie. Leni feels like she’s been replaced by the new wife Dolly (Katrina Halili), both by her former husband and her two children. And this has been tearing her apart.Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 11.12.01 AMThat opening sequence comes back later, but it doesn’t matter for quite a while. The plot, such as it is, seems to kick off around an hour in, with Leni getting sick and falling into a coma. The Congressman immediately sets out to acquire everything that his former wife had while she’s still unconscious. His children (Meg Imperial and Jon Lucas) have major reservations about what their father is doing, but they’re forced to go along with it. Meanwhile, an intrepid journalist and his investigator half-brother are looking into the Congressman’s dirty business.Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 11.32.48 AMThe whole film seems to bend towards the Congressman getting his comeuppance. And while this is a worthy enough narrative goal, nothing proactive occurs in this story to make that happen. This is part of the point, actually. As the very helpful ending narration explains, this is a story about karma. The idea here is that our ostensible hero Leni was right to not really do anything to further her cause or seek compensation for the open crimes that have been committed against her. She certainly had a case: her ex-husband, without her consent or the appropriate power of attorney, entered her property and basically ransacked it. He openly threatened members of her staff, and attempted to make business dealings on her behalf. Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 11.14.06 AMBut the movie’s advice, in this case, is to simply wait for the universe or God to step in, to stand idly by as the forces of cosmic justice work their eventual magic. As you might suspect, this doesn’t make for very compelling cinema. What little forward movement there is comes from minor characters we don’t know anything about. Meanwhile, the main character is left to do nothing but bemoan her plight, which doesn’t even really seem that bad, since she is a rich lady from a rich family with a big house and a business still in her name. While she has indeed been the victim of a lot of bad stuff, this isn’t exactly the story of Job. Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 11.18.30 AMThis is all handled with a noticeable lack of talent behind the camera. This whole thing is just a mess. The structure doesn’t make any sense. There are a bunch of scenes that really should have been cut out. It’s clear that the filmmakers are really into drones, with more than one scene openly discussing their use, and more than a handful of sequences employing them for unwarranted scale. Meanwhile, the film gets the most basic production details wrong. The acting is uniformly terrible up and down the cast. To be fair to these actors, this script is so bad that it’s hard to imagine how it could have turned out any other way. But that’s on them as well. Presumably, nobody was forced to take these roles.Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 11.17.05 AMHiganti is completely terrible. There is no getting around it. There is merit in the general idea that nothing good comes from revenge. The failure of this film is that it cannot imagine a course of action towards justice that isn’t considered revenge. But even that is giving the movie too much credit. One need not consider its themes, because it is on its face so badly put together that it would be a waste of one’s time to try and parse what the film is talking about. We haven’t even really gotten into the specific bits of insanity of this film, which will occasionally jump into a strange dance interlude that only seems to marginally involve the main character. It is like trying to find meaning in a flaming pile of garbage. You could certainly do it, but your attention is better given elsewhere.

HIGANTI IS NOW SHOWING IN SELECTED CINEMAS NATIONWIDE.
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Philbert Dy
Philbert Ortiz Dy has been reviewing movies professionally since 2007, and has thus dedicated his life to being yelled at by fans of literally everyone. He is currently the Online Editor of Rogue.ph. Yell at him on Twitter at @philbertdy.
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