A commendable addition to the crop of DV features about tough life in Manila, “Drumbeat” sensitively observes a 14-year-old boy whose dream of buying a drum kit is corrupted by his brother’s slide into crime. Closer to “Los Olvidados” than the urban nightmares of stablemates like “Slingshot” and “Tribe,” this pic, by prolific helmer Adolfo Alix Jr. (“Donsol”) occasionally stumbles over its non-linear structure, but a strong emotional core provides ballast. Pic performed respectably on its Aug. 28 domestic release, and should find a steady fest beat.
The center of a large canvas of characters housed in a noisy Quezon City slum, talented Jason (Jiro Manio) wants only to be a rock drummer. Hope is slowly eroded by the influence of his brother Billy (Coco Martin), who needs money for his girlfriend’s abortion; and Billy’s pal, Pablo (Sid Lucero), a hustler whose plan to solve everyone’s problems by robbing oldster Lola Trining (local icon Anita Linda) brings tragic results. Artfully shot in low-contrast monochrome, the pic makes excellent use of Manila locations and leaves a lasting impression of doomed youth, despite muddled final-reel editing. Otherwise, tech work is fine.