When the end credits rolled for OTJ, I sought my friend’s eyes in the darkness of the theater and mumbled an invective. In fact, I’ve said the same expletive again and again throughout the course of the movie. Which is not to say that this film brings out the inner foulmouthed street thug in everybody—you just cannot watch it and stay passive.
I believe OTJ is Star Cinema’s one true moment of brilliance. A week ago when it opened in the theaters, I told my friends I didn’t want to watch it because I can’t stand its star Gerald Anderson and its production house, despite the fact that it was directed by THE Erik Matti. A week later I went back to said friends, begging them to watch the movie with me. Apparently my cynicism took a leave of absence.
OTJ is a masterpiece of a filmmaker who doesn’t bullshit his audience. It’s bold and fearless. It doesn’t tiptoe around issues as if they’re made of china. It’s in-your-face, though not in the way big-budget films are nowadays. None of the sappy shit Star Cinema subjects people to. It’s real as real can get. Its relevance is so unparalleled, it’s like watching the news, but dramatized.
Then there’s the all-star cast. You will read in every review that Joey Marquez is brilliant in his portrayal of a cop, and he deserves every bit of it. He even manages to be hysterically funny. Piolo Pascual is underwhelming, which is how I like him to be. Vivian Velez is so compelling that even her simple act of lighting a cigarette sent chills down my spine. Joel Torre is excellent as usual wherever he appears, though in OTJ he doesn’t make everyone blend with the wallpaper because they’re all equally incandescent. And yes, Gerald Anderson wasn’t so bad—in fact he was one of my favorite characters (if only he didn’t curse so Amboy-ishly). He even made me utter my biggest WTF!!! in his final scene with Piolo. Do watch out for the scene where Gerald sticks out his knuckles in front of Joel—I laughed so hard, I swear.
I do not know how to write a proper film review but if this piece doesn’t do it, maybe I need to spell it out for you: IT’S PROBABLY ONE OF THE BEST FILMS RELEASED IN YEARS. DON’T MISS OUT. WATCH IT.
And if you encounter someone as stupidly snobbish as I was a week ago, bonk her on the head, drag her to the cinemas, and strap her in.
PS: The soundtrack is amazing.