I had not planned to write a review of “Raging Grace,” although I saw it. There is no need for a picky critic to deride the work of a new filmmaker which was 80% fine—until the end.
“RAGING GRACE” is, so far, one of the only feature films I have seen at SXSW, as I’ve devoted much more time to seeing one-time-only premieres of television series or specials. (“Love & Death,” “Lucky Hank,” etc.) I thought the film was overlong and that the ending fell apart. It was promising up to the final one-third, which would have been the last 33 minutes of the 99 minute film. The Filipino lead and her young daughter (the “Grace” of the title) were fine, and the sets were ornate and impressive.
There are only so many hours in a day. I have focused on television premieres that looked interesting and documentaries. For a variety of reasons (mostly time, but sometimes subject matter) I have not attended or reviewed animated films or shorts. I drive in from a suburb (Manchaca) each day, and it doesn’t make sense to spend half an hour driving in, pay $32.50 to park, and have a film that only lasts 10 minutes.
When I saw this film, the first Filipino feature to be included at SXSW, I was impressed by the acting and the lavish English manse that appeared prominently in the film. The first two-thirds of the film were excellent. For me, the ending fell apart. It seemed overlong; people were climbing under the railing in the theater to depart early. That was about the point where the film introduced 2 look-alike characters whose identities are not clearly explained and a chorus of Filipino singers were prominently featured. Other cultural touches (food, Tagalog sub-titles, etc.) were impressive.
There were many good plot twists in the film. But there was a lot, plotwise, that was left unclear.
There just weren’t as many “narrative features” this year at SXSW.
And then this happened.
Congratulations to Director/Screenwriter Paris Zarcilla.
May he continue to make feature films that are as promising as the first 2/3 of this film.
NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION
Presented by Panavision
Winner: Raging Grace
Director/Screenwriter: Paris Zarcilla, Producer: Chi Thai
“Raging Grace’s heady blend of horror, history, and midnight humor announces the arrival of an exciting new filmmaking talent in writer-director Paris Zarcilla. The story of a Filipina house cleaner and her young daughter confronting Britain’s racial and class divides, Raging Grace is both frank and elusive, a film that subverts expectations on its way to a stirring conclusion. In cleverly employing genre tropes to explore vast socio political matters, Zarcilla has crafted a resonant, urgent work about labor, legacy, and diaspora.”