Film Review – Quezon’s Game (2018)

Title – Quezon’s Game (2018)

Director – Matthew E. Rosen (Future War)

Cast – Raymond Bagatsing, Rachel Alejandro, David Bianco, Billy Ray Gallion

Plot – The true story of Philippian president Manuel Quezon (Bagatsing) who in 1938 agreed to a deal to bring in 1000’s of Jewish refugees from Germany who were facing persecution under the Nazi occupied country.

“Could I have done more?”

Review by Eddie on 26/02/2020

The various events and occurrences leading up to and during World War 2 have left us all with countless stories of heroism, human kindness and sacrifice and unbelievable feats that all deserve to be remembered. with the cinematic landscape in particular featuring an array of worthy stories that have been showcased for audiences through the medium of film.

The newest addition to the World War 2 cinematic library is Quezon’s Game, a low-budget affair that tells that non-mainstream true story of Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon, who through the goodness of his heart worked with his trusted team of servants and countrymen to shelter 1000’s of refugee Jews that were escaping persecution in the Nazi occupied lands of Europe before the heat of WW2 properly began.

It’s a fascinating story, one that deserves some limelight in a space often littered with higher profile stories of a similar ilk, but despite having its heart in the right place and some emotionally charged moments, Matthew Rosen’s film is too soapy and melodramatic too really do this story full justice.

No doubt hampered by its low funding, Game is littered with many a dialogue heavy scene, filled with little flair or presentation throughout and while it has a few picturesque Philippines set locations showcased during its two hour runtime, the film is often a victim of it’s behind the scenes circumstances as it struggles to bring energy or gripping elements to its examination of a an extremely interesting man and subject matter.

Portrayed by Raymond Bagatsing, Manuel L. Quezon is given very little time to shine in Rosen’s film and while we are intrigued and even inspired by what the president did during his time (whilst also battling tuberculosis), Rosen and Bagatsing fail to dig deep into what made the president tick and often act in ways that wasn’t always the popular decision or in ways that didn’t endear him to his own party members.

The failure to fully explore this intriguing real life character is in many ways a metaphor for the films inability to make the most of the opportunities available to it, elements like Quezon’s friendship with then military adviser Dwight Eisenhower and the heartbreaking decision to pick and choose which Jewish refugees would be chosen to bring into the country all feel half-cooked, a shame for the film as it has moments that are genuinely moving and unique in the WW2 cinematic cannon.

Final Say –

Well-intentioned, this shining of a light on a little known component of the WW2 story falls victim to the circumstances that have seen it make it to the big screen, as Rosen and his cast can’t shake the more amateurish natures of its delivery that hold this true story back from being a must-watch feature.

2 ½ office coughing fits out of 5

Quezon’s Game will be screening at Village and Event Cinemas in Australia from Thursday 27th of February

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