Review: Why '10,000 Hours' won 39th MMFF

By Fred Hawson

Posted at Dec 28 2013 03:26 PM | Updated as of Jan 02 2014 07:44 PM

'10,000 Hours' a showcase of extraordinary technical excellence

I only had a fleeting glimpse of a TV ad of "10,000 Hours" and those few seconds were enough to convince that I had to watch this film. The quality of the cinematography was unlike any Filipino film I had seen before. The whole film more than fulfills its promise.

Philippine Senator Gabriel Molino Alcaraz (Robin Padilla) is about to spill the beans on a pork barrel scam that reaches all the way to the presidency of Genoviva Martinez Obrero (Bibeth Orteza). Instead, he gets implicated in the murder of an NBI director who was his friend.

As his warrant of arrest was being served, Alcaraz was able to elude authorities led by Gen. Dante Cristobal (Michael de Mesa) with the help of an aggressive news reporter Maya Limchauco (Bela Padilla). He manages to make his way to Amsterdam to hide out and to search for a long-lost witness Sebastian Jago (Pen Medina) who could clear his name.

Back in the country though, his wife Anna (Mylene Dizon) and children bear the consequential backlash of his controversial escape.

The title "10,000 Hours" refers to the number of hours Alcaraz was on the lam. The plot was obviously inspired by recent real-life political events. However, the film ends with a statement that the events depicted in the film are entirely fictional.

Robin Padilla was entirely in his element as the lawmaker on the run from the law. His acting here was very subdued as the entire treatment of the film required. We see a different Robin here, as he shucks his trademark denims for smart winter wear, and he sports a fresh demeanor free from his old acting tics. His execution of the action scenes were skilled and realistic. Robin dominates this film with his unfading screen presence and charisma.

The other members of the cast do very well in their supporting roles. Standing out were Mylene Dizon as the brave wife who later reaches her breaking point, Cholo Barreto as the eldest son Benjo who had to bear the brunt of the family shame, Carla Humphries as the Amsterdam contact Isabelle, Michael de Mesa as the old friend turned pursuer, and Pen Medina as the former police asset turned vital witness.

Bela Padilla plays the lady reporter Maya, who had her own ulterior motives for helping the senator. Despite her beauty, I felt she was not able to project enough maturity to be believable as her character. Maybe an actress a little older than Bela could have tackled this critical role better. Her interaction with her goofy cameraman Jerome (Ketchup Eusebio) also could have been better.

I felt "10,000 Hours" was a very well-crafted Filipino film of a quality that is rarely seen. The technical aspect was flawless, impressively by an almost all-female behind-the-scenes crew. The screenplay written by Ryllah Epifania Berico and Keiko Aquino was practically perfect as it neatly told a story that spanned nearly three decades interconnecting multiple generations of characters.

The imported-looking photography of the film by Marissa Floreindo was resplendent, both in the local and the Amsterdam locations. The film editing by Marya Ignacio was exciting and tense. The music by Teresa Barrozo added much to the suspenseful atmosphere of the film. Director Bb. Joyce Bernal assuredly assembles and delivers to us a final product of such fine quality that elevates her craft high and above all the rom-coms she is more known for.

It fully deserves the A-rating given by the Film Evaluation Board. I wish more people would watch movies like this, so that more of them could be made. 9/10.

This review was originally published in the author's blog, Fred Said.