30 January 2009 | charliekoon
Count Your Blessings
The new trend that is being employed by some of the most flourishing directors and screenwriters in film is with the use of real time in terms of storytelling. Adela is one of those films which made it right. The story's development is loaded with all those activities happening in a day. You will never doubt Adela's energy to do all those things for her age. And yet, it adheres to the most essential elements of a film despite the time constraint. It's good to know that the film was shot for seven days not really a day in Adela's life. It might be physically impossible for an actress like Anita Linda to conform to the idea of real time. I don't want to meddle with the theories behind it as it's a different issue. What is important is Anita Linda's performance with of course Adolfo Alix's directing. Despite her age and the director's idea of real time storytelling (usually happens in a day), Adela is one that I will never get tired of watching. It is simply because; Linda is magnificent! Adela turns eighty years old. It seems another ordinary day to her life. She goes to the market. She prepares the ingredients for the pansit bihon (vermicelli noodle dish). She expects a visit from her daughter to celebrate her birthday with her. She goes to the church. She visits the grave of her husband. She also visits her son in the prison. And come back to her shanty and wait with much hope that somehow, something extraordinary is in store for her that day.
The shabby production design is apparently shot in the junkyard part of Manila. Despite its understated setting, the moment Linda simply passes by the area; it made the entire place enchanting. I am at a loss for words on how great her performance was. Linda is the very key to the success of this film and I have no doubt about it. Alix's directing skills with a handful of films as his backup might have contributed a lot in bringing the best from Linda. If this has been done by a different director, I have this feeling that it would get messed up. And for the role of Adela, I have exactly the same precognition. It is quite tedious to demonstrate a wide range of emotions with subtlety and Linda has done it with style.
When I review Alix's film, it certainly appears to be short. Adela is a story which transpires in a day. The simplistic nature of the film threatens to belie its profundity for the unseasoned viewer. No dramatizations, no histrionics, just the stark goings-on of an ordinary woman's life. Precisely this is what Filipino films lack, brevity. Before, I really have doubts with their ideologies in its incorporation of real time for film perspective. I basically view real time as something theoretical in nature, and will possibly distort its own views. I felt that Alix has done a good task in this. I have a fair grasp of this supposed new trend in films.
Adela is Alix's best work so far. After all, seeing a legend on the screen is one rare opportunity. Linda is simply stunning. Her past works might have not been very visible in our local theatres as well as in television. Adela is one film you will certainly be blessed to see a performance that requires a luminary presence and charisma. Anita Linda has such qualities.