#MMFF2020: ‘Suarez: The Healing Priest’ Review

Directed by Joven Tan

A good biopic depends largely on the effectiveness to of its lead star. Whether he or she portrays the character as close to the particular person he or she is playing, or you get drawn to his or her character because of the performance. John Arcilla in Suarez: The Healing Priest once again, proves what learning and being the character can affect greatly in the outcome of the story and of the film itself.

The film is a lot to process because it tells a lot of story: Suarez from his younger years, Suarez when he’s still studying, Suarez when he decides to pursue and follow his heart to be a priest, Suarez as the healing priest and the people that are moved by Suarez’s advocacies and healing. It’s both an advantage and disadvantage because you get an in depth presentation of who Father Suarez is, but at the same time, the film at times lost its focus because it wants to tell a different story of Suarez.

But the film wants its audiences to ponder on a lot of issues. It talks about faith, it talks about who Father Suarez is in the eyes of the people around him, how he changed their lives and how his life changed when controversies began to surround him.

I was actually impressed that they tackled the controversies. They let Suarez be vulnerable to its audience even though he’s already quite vulnerable to others’ eyes. And the film isn’t too preachy about what the impact of Suarez is to the community but rather present him as someone who just likes to comply, someone who doesn’t want attention, someone who just wants to help and get the work done.

There’s a scene where John Arcilla as Suarez is being interviewed for a TV show, there, it felt like John Arcilla was a different person, like he is Father Suarez. I was glued to his character in that moment. He was so good. I forgot he also played Heneral Luna and a villain in a local telefantasya.

The film may be a lot to take in, but there are really compelling moments there. And it reminds me of the effect of goodness to the people around us, the good and the bad.

What Suarez: The Healing Priest presents is probably what we need right now, “Healing.” And that being compassionate is more important than being obedient.


‘Suarez: The Healing Priest’ is an official entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival 2020. Streaming at upstream.ph starting December 25, 2020. Buy your tickets here: https://bit.ly/WatchSuarez.

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