Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Sayles|
|Screenplay by||John Sayles|
|Based on||A Moment in the Sun
by John Sayles
|Music by||Mason Daring|
|Edited by||John Sayles|
Anarchist's Convention Inc.
|Distributed by||Variance Films (North America)
Star Cinema & Origin8Media (Philippines)
Amigo is a 2010 American-Filipino drama film written and directed by John Sayles. The film takes place in the Philippines in 1900 during the Philippine–American War. It is one of only a small handful of films directed by an American to address the war. The only other notable example is The Real Glory (1939), starring Gary Cooper.
Amigo centers on Rafael Dacanay, kapitan of the fictional barrio of San Isidro in a rice-growing area of Luzon. His brother Simón, head of the local guerrilla band, has forced the surrender of the Spanish guardia civil outpost and charged Rafael with the task of imprisoning the guardia Captain and the barrio’s Spanish friar, Padre Hidalgo, in the name of the revolutionary government. But when the American troops chasing General Emilio Aguinaldo arrive, the Spanish officer and Padre Hidalgo are freed, and a garrison under the command of Lieutenant Ike Compton is left to ‘protect’ the barrio. The American occupation policy now changes from ‘hearts and minds’ to ‘concentration’ (what was called ‘hamletting’ during the Vietnam war) and Rafael has to answer to both the Americans and the Filipino patriots, with deadly consequences.
- Joel Torre as Rafael
- Chris Cooper as Col. Hardacre
- Garret Dillahunt as Lt. Compton
- DJ Qualls as Zeke
- Yul Vazquez as Padre Hidalgo
- Lucas Neff as Shanker
- James Parks as Sgt. Runnels
- Dane DeHaan as Gil
- Stephen Taylor as Pvt. Bates
- Rio Locsin as Corazon
- Jemi Paretas as Zuniga
- Bill Tangradi as Dutch
- Bembol Roco as Policarpio
- Ronnie Lazaro as Simon
- Irma Adlawan as Josefa
- Joe Gruta as Hilario
- John Arcilla as Nenong
Connie Ogle from the Miami Herald in her review said "A reflection on power and betrayal, on the thin line between acting as your conscience demands and protecting obligations close to your heart."
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone awarded the film 3 out of 4 stars wrote "John Sayles, a filmmaker by trade, a provocateur by nature, means to stir things up with Amigo. That he does, and more power to him."
Stephen Whitty of the Newark Star-Ledger wrote "By choosing Rafael as its hero, "Amigo" looks not only at a little-known part of American history, but at a rarely examined type of movie character."
David Fear of Time Out New York wrote in his "Few filmmakers are ambitious enough these days to try addressing our present world-policing endeavors through the prism of past ones, so it almost seems churlish to take Sayles to task for relying on overly dogmatic storytelling."
Background and production
Cinematical reports that the film was once titled Baryo, and that the idea for it came from a yet-to-be-published novel Some Time in the Sun, detailing U.S. imperialism in the Philippines. The book will actually be called A Moment in the Sun, though the unrealized screenplay which inspired it was called Some Time in the Sun.
Sayles said the "amigo" of the title was the mayor:
The American soldiers were always asked, “Is he a good amigo or a bad amigo?” There was some irony to him being called an amigo. However, the complication in that movie that the usual war movie, you follow the guys on one side and the other side is the enemy. You root for the guys on your side and the other side is shooting at them. This is a movie where it’s almost evenly divided. Forty-eight percent is in English, 48 percent is in Tagalog, and there’s a little Cantonese and Spanish thrown in. So the audience is asked to do something they’re not normally asked in a chronological war movie, which is to spend time with all the combatants and the noncombatants. They, therefore, know more than any, one character does. That affects the structure as well, but there is just a structure of events. But how you feel about those events is different because you get to be on both sides and actually care about people on both sides. In a way, what I hope is that by the end of the movie, you’re hoping that they won’t have a confrontation, but that confrontation is inevitable.
The cast includes the "crème de la crème" of Philippine actors.
Amigo had its New York premier at the 2011 Asian American International Film Festival on August 10.
The film was released in North America on August 19, 2011 by Variance Films.
- "McSweeney's Internet Tendency: About John Sayles' A Moment In the Sun.". McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.
- Amigo at the Internet Movie Database. Last accessed: August 18, 2010.
- Clemente, Dennis (August 19, 2011). "Sayles' Philippine-American war movie 'Amigo' is noble but unexceptional". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
- "Amigo". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 21, 2014.
- "Amigo:Critics' Reviews". Movies.MSN.com. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
- "Amigo (R)". Miami Herald. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
- Rolling Stones. Film review. Last accessed: March 26, 2014.
- New Jersey. Film review. Last accessed: March 26, 2014.
- Time Out New York. Film review. Last accessed: March 26, 2014.
- New York Daily News. Film review. Last accessed: March 26, 2014.
- Bartyzel, Monika (2010-07-11). "John Sayles' Next Film: 'Amigo' & Its Off-the-Radar Website". Cinematical. Retrieved 2010-08-18.
- Danelle Myron, "Novel News" April 15, 2010 <http://johnsaylesbaryo.blogspot.com/2010/04/novel-news.html> Retrieved 2010-08-28.
- "The Masters: John Sayles".