Staff Recommendation/ Slingshot

Cornerhouse Digital Reporter Mugabi Turya reviews Slingshot

From the first frame Slingshot fires you into a Phillipino slum and looks in every direction but back.  The opening scenes take you in, out and back into a labyrinth of connected slums piggybacking on a police raid, from thereon in the motion is perpetual with no time to pause for reflection as you follow the slum’s inhabitants in their daily lives.

The use of handheld digital camera provides a cinematic shorthand for immediacy, authenticity and jeopardy which has been used across a range of cinema before from Cuaron’s Children of Men to Blomkamp’s District 9 and Greengrass’ Bourne films.

This frantic pace assists Mendoza’s vision, which is not a linear plot driven story but more of an impressionist piece of filmmaking with actors immersed amongst the everyday masses in the slums of Manilla.

You follow closely as characters weave in and out of the city’s crowded streets and move opportunistically from their homes to churches to political rallies surrounded by congregations and campaigning crowds often engaging in casual desperate acts of violence and larceny. A natural optimism is retained despite the brutality of their surroundings and many of their actions.

Slingshot whilst arresting does not totally captivate mainly due to its lack of a central character or plot. The acting is natural and expressive at times, particularly one scene when a character loses her dentures and funny in another instance when the influence of the Farrelly brothers surprisingly pops up. Despite these shards of emotion the film remains handicapped by its lack of narrative and the absence of any character development. However it is clear that the main character is the slum itself rather than those that populate it and in that respect Mendoza succeeds in making a character of great depth and nuance.

Slingshot screens Wed 16 Nov at 14:00. Buy your tickets here.