Good thing I watched Jose Javier Reyes' "Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo" right after, which assuaged my feelings somehow. This is a fine movie in the vein of his classic works, "May Minamahal" and "Pare Ko"--films that bear their writer/director's signature imprints: dialogue that zings and snaps with off-the-cuff polish, situations that are not cinematic in themselves but acquire vibrancy and pathos by reflecting onscreen the grainy, quotidian nature of everyday life, characters that seem lifted from your neighborhood corner, resolutions that are often messy and open-ended, and therefore so much closer to our familiar experience. No one charts middle-class blues like Mr. Reyes, and no one writes more pitch-perfect lines than him.
I've not seen the other Metro Manila Filmfest entries, but on the basis of this movie, I'd like to make a pitch for Ryan Agoncillo as a worthy Best Actor contender. At least for this so-called festival (more like "a fantasia and a carnival," as exasperated PDI colleague Lito Zulueta put it, given the surfeit of horror and fantasy entries every December). What a natural actor! Mr. Agoncillo, a tyro, never busts a vein overemoting, but just lets his scenes play out quietly. It's a savvy big-screen performance. Judy Ann Santos, too, is excellent, as are Gloria Diaz and Soliman Cruz. And, of course, Gina Pareno. Hail, Ms. Pareno, delightful devourer of scenery without her meaning to! Give this woman the Best Supporting Actress trophy now, quick!
Direk Joey Reyes, thank you for this movie. One matino mainstream Filipino film in our day and age is always reason for a toast.
P.S. Due to the Taiwan quake, Internet connection is still slooow, so patience please if this blog downloads a bit longer than usual.
[photo: ABS-CBN Interactive]