18 April 2014 | Layput
Could Potentially be the Best Filipino Film Ever Made
Saying that this film could potentially be the best Filipino film ever made is a big statement, perhaps an overstatement, but I think it is. However, there are some things I would like to get off my chest and say that some things in the movie could have been better.
It has been a while since I've seen a Filipino act so good. With this, I wish to extend Jake Macapagal my deepest congratulations. His acting was precise and right on the money and I do not think that there was anyone who could have played the role better.
I don't exactly know what was wrong with the dialogs but perhaps because the original script was written in English and was later on translated to Filipino, that it became apparent that it brought about cultural-linguistic misalignments which made many lines sound fundamentally imprecise. To those who cannot understand spoken Filipino and would only need to rely on subtitles to understand the dialogs, the acting can appear fine. But for those who understand the native language, some actings can appear painfully bad.
Althea Vega was frigid most of the time but there was nothing that she could do worse than when she delivered iconoclastic lines. John Arcilla is a great actor by any measure but how his acting turned out to be unusually tense is a big wonder. He could have simmered his excitement quite a bit and he would have played the role with much more convincing realism.
Of all the actors in the film, only two managed to give life to their lines without unnecessarily giving an underacting or an overacting. Only Jake Macapagal and Miles Canapi, the madamme who played Charlie, were the only two worthy of praise. But everyone deserves to be congratulated, nonetheless. However, I find it quite strange because all the scripts, I believe, were written or translated by the same person. And yet some of the actors gave outstanding performances and some of them gave poor ones. I guess it is safe to say that talent can get the best out of the actors even if the lines are fundamentally flawed.
Many people have noticed that the film painted the capital in a rather unsightly way. I understand that in order to get a good story across, the plot has to tread somewhere in the territories of exaggeration. But believe me, the depiction of Metro Manila as a dirty city with ruthless inhabitants who always acted on their animalistic selfish behavior is chillingly accurate. What is more surprising is that it was written by a foreigner who has not lived in the Philippines for very long and who many consider could not give an accurate account of the locality. But his impressions or observations were excruciatingly accurate which no one can attempt to dispute.
Watching the entire film was exhausting not because it was dull or boring but because the misfortunes of the family always make you wish they could finally catch a break at some point. And when you think that nothing could be worse, along comes another. Imagine yourself in the shoes of those persons in real life and it would give you a whole new sense to the meaning of the word 'living'. I wonder what people in the First World countries feel about their First World problems after watching this.
This movie is so tense, I had to watch it in staggered sessions because I could not handle the suspense. The anticipation was so unbearable that I always jumped off my seat several times.
I grew up in Manila and I have seen it transformed. I have been to all those locations that were shown in the movie but nothing could have prepared me for what I would see in this film. If ever there was a family in Manila that goes through what this family had been through, I wouldn't want to know about it. Honestly, it now gives me second thoughts about getting out of the house when I would be visiting there in the future. Not because I am scared of the place but because I wouldn't want to meet anyone that could remind me of the sad fate of the family in this movie. In a way, I admit that I am affected and I must say that if a film can create such an impact to the viewers, I believe the story teller has achieved his purpose.
While I may not give this film 10 stars due to some dialog flaws, I believe it is the best Filipino film ever made. Only that it really was not made by a Filipino per se but by a British film maker who was trying to make a non-English foreign film. Regardless, I am still glad that someone has done something which many Filipinos can relate to. Yes, it is unfortunate that it would take a foreigner to make the best Filipino film but just like the overall tone of the film, it is sad but true.