Written and directed by John Sayles
Starring Joel Torre, Chris Cooper, Garret Dillahunt
For his 17th movie, director John Sayles revisits a more obscure chapter of American history — the Philippine- American War at the turn of the 19th
century. Rest assured, this is no dry history lesson; the film is as charming as it is gripping and sobering.
The story unfolds in 1900, after Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States at the end of the Spanish-American War. American soldiers, ordered to colonialize the newly acquired land, find themselves at battle with Filipino rebels. The precarious balance of power manifests in a village run by judicious Rafael (Joel Torre). Rafael faces the impossible task of keeping his people safe while appeasing the Americans and also staying true to his rebel friends. It doesn’t help that the American soldiers occupying his quiet hamlet turn out to be an amiable bunch.
“Amigo” feels intimate, but it also has a grandiose humanity. By tuning in to each character’s moral and emotional condition, Sayles keenly illustrates the hubris of America’s earliest tango with imperialism.
Playing at AMC Empire 25