Amigo - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Amigo Reviews

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January 27, 2016
Interesting look by John Sayles at the American imperialist occupation of the Philippines in the early 20th century
October 24, 2013
An excellent movie which showcases a nearly-forgotten part of history in the Philippines. With it's beautiful cinematography and good plot, this movie revolves around trust and imperialism.
½ August 9, 2013
That last scene was the bomb! Another exceptional performance from Joel Torre.
½ August 7, 2013
A powerful historical drama that examines the complexities of counter-insurgency and life under occupation.
April 8, 2013
An excellent film filled with ideas and insights.
March 22, 2013
Although its fiction, having read some diaries of GIs during the Philippine-American war, particularly Gen. Aguinaldo's own account, the movie was entertaining and believable. Made me a fan of writer-director John Sayles. However, won't be surprised if more Filipinos prefer movies made by those whom they will also elect and re elect in the coming Philippine election.
October 12, 2012
Sayles is always an interesting storyteller, and if "Amigo" isn't typical of his subtler methods, it's still a compelling look at history and its continuing influence.
Super Reviewer
½ April 15, 2012
"Amigo" is a small, interesting little low-budget film that benefits from beautiful photography and Sayles' well-paced direction. For its two hour running time, it breezes by and remains consistently entertaining. A few performances are off and the costume design is bland, but "Amigo" is another fine outing from one of cinema's greatest storytellers.
April 3, 2012
I think it was extremely powerful, and maybe too nuanced for some of these reviewers,
March 1, 2012
i realy love history movies:)
February 2, 2012
Hands down one of the most boring films of all time.
December 21, 2011
John Sayles is a one of a kind filmmaker (I mean have you seen Lone Star?) and a brilliant provocateur. His latest, Amigo, is no less a potent piece of work. Amigo is a look at American imperialism through the history of the United States occupation of the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. Sayles' source material is the novel A Moment in The Sun, but the writer-director focuses the action wonderfully on life in the village of San Isidro, a place torn by conflict.

Filipino actor Joel Torre is stellar as Rafael, a village big cheese who attempts to play amigo with the American occupiers, led by Lt. Compton (the sexy and excellent Garret Dillahunt from tv's Raising Hope) and his racist commander Col. Hardacre (Chris Cooper, superb as usual). This doesn't sit well with Rafael's brother Simon (Ronnie Lazaro) who leads a band of rebels, and the set up draws stark parallels to modern day conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Working with a 128 minute running time and a script in English, Spanish and Tagalog, Sayles is bound to trip up on his greater ambitions, and he does, but no sense in finding fault in a filmmaker striving for something felt and true. Years after his marvelous 1980 debut The Return of The Secaucus Seven, Sayles is still looking at the world through his own unique lens, and Amigo is a remarkable example of his skill. It stays with you.
December 15, 2011
John Sayles Rocks! One of the few writer/directors who not only tell a great story, but manages to create a dramatic friction because everyone's worldview is valid for them but is in conflict with the other character's: "Lone Star", for example. I'm looking forward to seeing it.
October 9, 2011
Talking about the making of the 3erd world...This is a well done small production. San Isidro is invaded by US soldiers, and the balance of the Barrio is broken. Soon after Philippine was done with spaniards, along came americans. All the culture shocks will add something to this movie.
October 1, 2011
The acting and editing were superb, but a lot of the film seemed very sappy and manipulative.
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
September 4, 2011
"Amigo" starts out on an ordinary day in the baryo of San Ysidro in the Philippines in 1900 before the silence is broken by the American army invading to restore order. Joaquin(James Obenza) escapes just ahead of the army's bullets to join the insurrectionaries led by his uncle Simon(Ronnie Lazaro), while leaving behind his father Rafael(Joel Torre) to lead the village. The Americans also release the prisoners held by the insurrectionaries, allowing them to go to Manila but Father Hidalgo(Yul Vazquez) agrees to stay as there are souls to save and people to annoy. Lieutenant Compton(Garret Dillahunt) is eager to move on also but Colonel Hardacre(Chris Cooper) orders him to stay behind so his soldiers can head off any rebellion.

"Amigo" is John Sayles in fine form in that he not only captures the rhythms and details of another time and place, with a little known bit of history which I had studied back in college, but also in telling a timeless story that admittedly does have a hokey and drawn out ending. He also economically employs scraps of dialogue to fill in the backstory on the various characters. A lot of that goes to his talent for telling a story from as many different angles as possible which keeps the villains to a minimum and not sugarcoating the actions of the insurrectionists. If there is one, then I would like to volunteer the colonel, as his actions will have repercussions for decades to come. It's not just the writing that is to be applauded but also an excellent use of crosscutting between similar activities as performed by different groups and the best metaphor ever for cockfighting. Throughout, it is the Filipino people that have the most sympathy here, as underlined by Rafael when he points out that they are fucked from both sides.
September 4, 2011
Raising Hope fans: You get Burt AND Jimmy in this movie. But the real surprise is Joel Torre, who plays the the title role. He puts a human face on John Sayles' history lesson, and brings a perfect mix of dignity and conflicted-ness to the party.

Not that this is a party. Set in the Philippines of 1900, with lots of subtitles, and rain, and sitting around, this movie won't be everyone's cup of tea. Once again, John Sayles has a lot to tell us, at the expense of making a "fun" movie. It's a critique of imperialism and prejudice, with lessons that are still valid over a century later. Sayles points a finger at the U.S. and unveils yet another not-too-proud moment in our history. But no one's off the hook. We see how the Spanish (who occupied the Philippines before we did) feel superior to the Filipinos, and how the Filipinos view the Chinese, and how Americans feel superior to everyone.... it's an f-ed up world, isn't it?

Chris Cooper is win-at-all-costs American nastiness personified, and he is good as always. Garret Dillahunt's character develops a bit of a conscience as he spends time with the villagers. We also get the sell-out Spanish priest, the wildly overmatched band of rebels, and Rafael, a.k.a. Amigo, trying to be all things to all sides. Sprinkled in is some romance, ambition, religion, generational divides, sibling conflict, and some culture lessons. And some gunshots.

Something toward the end didn't ring true, but it was a rare sour note in a satisfying, dare I say it--educational--movie. That very few people will go to see.
August 28, 2011
Powerful topic with contemporary ramifications ... fine acting. Sayles takes us where few filmakers venture these days.
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