Although Metro Manila was the British entry, it takes place in the Philippines and the dialogue is in Tagalog. It fits into a common genre in foreign language films: a man/woman/family from the country are forced to seek work in the city and are exploited and lose all their money. That’s exactly what happens in Metro Manila, but this time there are some intriguing plot twists. Forced by poverty to move to Manila, Oscar, Mae and their children end up in the slums, desperate for money just to pay for food. From the film’s trailer you’d think it was about Mae’s descent into being a sex worker. It’s true that she takes degrading work in a hostess bar, but the plot really revolves around Oscar. An innocent in a sea of slime, he benefits from his military background to land a good job as a guard for an armored truck company. However, in Manila, this is a really dangerous job. Fortunately a veteran guard, Ong, takes Oscar under his wing and teaches him the ropes and even lets him and his family move into an apartment he owns. But there’s a catch. At first it seems that the tradeoff is just keeping silent about Ong’s infidelities, but soon Ong lures Oscar into activity that is way more sinister and dangerous.
Director Sean Ellis was nominated in the Live Action Short category in 2006 for Cashback.