Michael Totten


I haven’t seen John Sayles’ new film Amigo yet, but I intend to as I’ve liked many of his previous films a great deal. (I especially enjoyed the underrated Limbo.)

Since Amigo is about the American counterinsurgency in the Philippines at the turn of the last century, I’m relieved to learn from Ryan L. Cole at City Journal that Sayles latest offering is “a relatively agenda-free film on a loaded subject.”

Amigo, Cole writes, presents “empathetic portraits of all involved. The young American soldiers, led by the amiable, architecture-loving Lieutenant Compton (Garret Dillahunt), are indeed strangers in a strange land. But they’re also earnest, well-intentioned, and humane. The usual Hollywood stereotypes are avoided. Their Filipino adversaries, hiding and plotting in caves or in the jungle while awaiting instructions from Aguinaldo, are not celebrated or deified but portrayed neutrally. Caught in the middle are the villagers, who gradually begin to bond with the Americans without necessarily losing sympathy for the rebels’ cause. A U.S.–Filipino cast employ their respective native languages (English would become the second official language of the Philippines later in the twentieth century), adding a sense of realism to the proceedings.”


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