January 27 marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the Nazi’s most-notorious concentration camp. History is filled with many stories of heroic people trying to fight the atrocities of the Nazis. Some are familiar and some are not. Quezon’s Game, detailing a perhaps lesser known stories, is a moving—albeit slow—chronicle of determination in the face of incredible odds to do something when everyone else is doing nothing.
Directed by Matthew Rosen, Quezon’s Game stars Raymond Bagatsing, Rachel Alejandro, Kate Alejandrino, James Paoleli, Billy Ray Gallion, and David Bianco. It was written by Janice Y. Perez and Dean Rosen from an original story by Matthew Rosen and Lorena H. Rosen.
About Queson’s Game
Set in pre-World War II Manila, Quezon’s Game is based on alargely forgotten,true story of Filipino President Manuel L. Quezon (Bagatsing) who determined to save 10,000 Jews persecuted by the Nazis in the ghettos of Germany and Austria. He was aided in his quest by the U.S High Commissioner to the Philippines Paul McNutt (Paoleli), Jewish American businessman Alex Frieder (Gallion), and his U.S. military advisor, Colonel Dwight Eisenhower (Bianco). Quezon’s plan was to secure visas for the Jews and bring them to the Philippians. Challenging his goal was Quezon’s own health; he was suffering from a relapse of Tuberculosis. Concerned for his health, his wife Aurora, (Alejandro) and eldest daughter Maria Aurora (Alejandrino), stepped in to help. Due to restrictive immigration laws, in the end, only 1,200 refugees were allowed into the Philippines, a victory in itself, but far fewer than Quezon had hoped to help.
Quezon’s Game has heart, determined to showcase Quezon’s valiant efforts to help the Jewish people at a time when many people and many countries were turning their backs. Bagatsing’s portrayal of the suave and charismatic Quezon was believable, and Alejandro portrayed Maria Quezon as a strong, loyal, and loving wife and mother. Eisenhower is normally remembered as the U.S. Commander-in-Chief; Bianco gave a creditable performance of the future President as a younger man. Unfortunately, much of the rest of the acting was uneven.
The script proved to be the weakest link, weighed down by too much ‘telling’ and not enough ‘showing,’ and hackneyed dialogue. A character driven story, rather than the expected plot driven story common to this genre, Quezon’s Game also suffered from a lack of action. While their goals may have risked failure, there was little sense of impending danger to the main characters, not edge of your seat suspense, the viewer was left with little reason to be emotionally invested in the film. Hampered by a run-time of 2 hours, 6 minutes, the story plodded along to a moving ending, but giving little reason to watch in the middle. One of the high points came during the credits, when filmmakers included brief interviews with now-elderly survivors—referred to as called pala Manilaner (coming from Manila)—who emigrated to the Philippines as children.
Winner of multiple international film festivals, Quezon’s Game is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for strong language, thematic material including some disturbing images, and smoking throughout.
For more information, including theater locations: https://www.quezonsgame.com/