24 August 2012 | 3xHCCH
All-Star Ensemble Makes Maudlin Melodrama Work
This movie was made for the Cinemalaya Film Festival 2012, is considered an indie film, despite its star director, Jose Javier Reyes, and all-star cast composed of Judy Ann Santos, Iza Calzado, Janice de Belen and Agot Isidro. The remarkable thing about this movie is that its ensemble cast was given an unprecedented accolade as Best Actress AND Supporting Actress during the Cinemalaya awards! Admittedly, this award was what made me want to watch this film.
"Mga Mumunting Lihim" is about "Those Little Secrets" we keep from even our closest friends. From the start we already see the wake of Mariel (Judy Ann Santos) who just died from pancreatic cancer. This was attended by her closest friends successful advertising executive Carly (Iza Calzado), social-climbing socialite Sandy (Agot Isidro) and desperate housewife Olivia (Janice de Belen).
Problems begin to arise when Carly receives a box of diaries which "Mga Mumunting Lihim" is about "Those Little Secrets" we keep from even our closest friends specifically bequeathed to her. In this meticulous journals, Mariel recounted her thoughts about pleasant and unpleasant events that happened to her and her friends. Her three friends never expected what their friend had to say about them, and what they once said about each other. Can they ever get their close friendship back after they allowed the contents of Mariel's diaries to break them up?
I fully understand now why the Best Actress/Supporting Actress awards were given that way. All four of these actress acted as a perfect ensemble with each other. Although we can feel that Judy Ann and Iza had more central roles, the more peripheral roles of Agot and Janice all had their own turns to shine. I guess the reason why they had to make this film independently is because of its very serious and morose storyline. No all-star cast can make this story like this a commercial success that a mainstream producer wants. But I guess it also because of this famous cast that caused this film to be the first to be chosen for a commercial run from among the Cinemalaya films this year.
The direction and storytelling of Joey Reyes tend to be melodramatic. The four actresses can really turn on their waterworks to make the audience do the same. There were also some funny (albeit unrealistic) confrontation scenes where the girls turn on their bitchy modes. I was just distracted a bit by continuity problems by which diary Carly was reading with the sequence of events. I also do not really know why Reyes reused complete scenes at different parts of the film with unclear intention. There seemed to be no dramatic purpose for replaying these scenes at all.
I thought this film could have been more effective as a short film than a full length film like this. At almost two hours in length, the sad basic story simply got pulled out too long. However, its stellar cast still makes this film worth your time. They are really the best part of this film, and despite the unusual presentation, their awards are most well- deserved, and reason enough to check this indie film out.