Crime and Punishment" meets "High and Low" in the Philippines in the cleverly composed, sporadically stylish, technically undeveloped "The Criminal of Barrio Concepcion." Pic, which follows the planning, execution and aftermath of a kidnapping gone awry, should play well in local markets and at tolerant fests, with good vid life to follow.

Crime and Punishment” meets “High and Low” in the Philippines in the cleverly composed, sporadically stylish, technically undeveloped “The Criminal of Barrio Concepcion.” Pic, which follows the planning, execution and aftermath of a kidnapping gone awry, should play well in local markets and at tolerant fests, with good vid life to follow.

When haunted loner Serafin (Raymond Bagatsing) finally connects with hard-charging investigative journalist Elvira (Angel Aquino), he’s got quite a tale to tell of an unsolved abduction and the grisly murders that followed. Needing money for his sick wife’s treatment, the simple farmer was persuaded to help nab the infant offspring of a rich Chinese couple. The caper went south, Serafin survived the traumatic bloodbath involving the psychotic gang, and the child’s fate was never determined — until now. Debuting writer-director Lav Diaz shows promise with actors and story structure, but poky pic would benefit from further tightening, particularly in the melodramatic final reels. In a cast that’s all over the map, hunky Bagatsing strikes a fine balance of chastised grace and plucky grit as the guilt-ridden Everyman. Tech credits are rudimentary.

The Criminal of Barrio Concepcion

Philippines

Production

A Good Harvest Unlimited production in association with Regal Films. (International sales: Regal Films, Quezon City, Philippines.) Produced by Joey Gosiengfiao. Executive producer, Lily Monteverde. Directed, written by Lav Diaz.

Crew

Camera (color), Ariel Reyes; editor, Randy Brien; music, Blitz Padua, production designer, Elmer Bais. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Discovery), Sept. 10, 1999. Original title: Kriminal ng Baryo Concepcion. Running time: 121 MIN.

With

Raymond Bagatsing, Anna Capri, Angel Aquino, Tonton Gutierrez.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more