Finding Agnes

Movie review by
JK Sooja, Common Sense Media
Finding Agnes Movie Poster Image
Stiff acting slows cheesy indie drama about finding family.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 105 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Be open to change and discovery. Forging friendships and new family can help you find yourself. Help others instead of only living for yourself.

Positive Role Models

Agnes is a strong survivor who devoted her life to helping others in need. Her daughter, Cathy, is also a strong positive role model because she's compassionate, kind to everyone despite social standing, and only wants to see others happy. Virgilio becomes more connected with the human side of relationships rather than the business side of them. 

Violence

No violence shown. A mother looks at a slightly bruised face in the mirror. Later, we hear that she was abused and beaten by her husband and had to "leave to escape him, heal, and find purpose in life." A scene in a car where a young woman imagines hitting her passenger and smushing his face into the windshield. Some discussion about battered women's shelters and healing from domestic abuse and violence.   

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink wine to celebrate. A young woman displays some signs of drunkenness in conversation. A man drunkenly speaks to himself in his bedroom before passing out.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Finding Agnes is a Filipino drama about a man trying to find answers about his mother, Agnes, who left him as a boy 25 years ago. He must travel to Morocco to search for why his mother left him. The general messages of this simple indie film are positive: rediscovering oneself, finding family, and being a kinder, more caring, and better person. With help from his mother's daughter he didn't know about, Virgilio learns it's still possible to build family even if he had lost his years prior. No swearing, violence, or sex. Some drinking wine while celebrating, and a young woman appears drunk in conversation for a minute. Virgilio also drinks and gets visibly drunk one night, slurring his language, moving haphazardly, and passing out. Some discussion about men abusing and harming their wives, battered women's shelters, and healing from domestic abuse and violence.   

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What's the story?

In FINDING AGNES, Virgilio (Jelson Bay) was only a boy when his mother, Agnes, left. Now a successful businessperson in his 30s, he "married his work." But one day his mother suddenly returns. She asks why he never replied to any of her letters. He never received any, he says. With lots of questions needing answers, Virgilio says they'll catch up soon. Only, a day later, before a real union could happen, Agnes dies. Tasked now with her last wishes, Virgilio sets out to beautiful Morocco to meet Cathy, who claims to be Agnes's daughter. Will Virgilio find family after losing any connection he once had with the notion? What else about Agnes's life will Virgilio discover?

Is it any good?

Be prepared for a slow-moving and at times amateur-feeling indie movie about a successful and very wealthy businessperson discovering family secrets. In Finding Agnes, the pacing is plodding and scene composition soapy. There are odd pauses between spoken lines of dialogue. Occasional audio issues further hurt the presentation of the film, like when spoken dialogue clearly doesn't line up with the mouth of the person speaking or when the audio suddenly changes volume, power, or tonality, as if the audio suddenly switched channels. But the film has heart, and despite the stiff acting and basic plot, there are genuinely touching moments here and there. 

Where the film falls apart, however, is the writing. Inside each scene, the dialogue choices and flow are fine despite odd acting performances, but the overall decision not to have Virgilio show any emotion toward his horrible father is odd. For example, upon hearing that his father had demanded all Agnes's letters be thrown out and destroyed, Virgilio doesn't react or seem to care at all. Many of these letters obviously have information about why his mother had to leave and what she has been up to, things Virgilio now seems to care about, but for some reason, he has no ill feeling toward his father because of this. Further, he also shows no anger toward his father upon discovering that he was "horribly emotionally and physically abusive" to Agnes, and that is why she had to leave, to "seek sanctuary at a battered women's shelter, to heal, and find purpose in her life." Again, after hearing all this, Virgilio shows no emotion or anger and the only thing we do get is Virgilio saying after all this that he "respects" his father and thanks him for bestowing upon his son his work ethic.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Finding Agnes portrays domestic abuse and violence. Hearing his father abused his mother 25 years after the fact, do you feel Virgilio's reaction to this news was realistic? Why or why not? How would you have reacted?

  • Does Virgilio's journey of becoming a better person feel natural? What could have made his character feel more nuanced and complicated?

  • Were the portrayals of women in this film strong? How much agency or freedom does Cathy have compared to Virgilio?

  • If Virgilio wasn't incredibly wealthy but instead a single person living in a small apartment, say, would this story have resonated the same? Why or why not?

  • Do you think it's the film's responsibility to merely point out or more clearly take a stand on the issues of abuse, trauma, violence, and healing it raises? Why?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love family tales

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