Saturday, July 16, 2011

Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank


Hands down, the best movie I have seen this year. EUGENE DOMINGO SHOULD WIN AN ACTING AWARD for this one. If you have not seen it yet, you have one week before Cinemalaya ends.

The film is a movie within a movie and mainly revolves around sequences 36 to 40 of an indie screenplay about a woman named Mila (Eugene Domingo) who lives in the slums with her seven kids and is forced to sell one to a pedophile because of poverty. The said sequences are imagined many times, albeit with a different treatment by the characters. The director (Kian Cipriano) sees it as a typical indie movie with shaky cameras and either Cherry Pie Picache or Mercedes Cabral playing the lead role. The producer (JM de Guzman) wants a gritty documentary with a cast of non-actors. The production assistant (Cai Cortez) falls asleep and dreams of a musical version, which is one of the most hilarious scenes in the film.

Eugene Domingo appears in all the characters' imaginings before appearing as "herself", even though it is pretty much obvious that the portrayal is far from reality as proven by John Lapuz's contagious laughter inside the theater. As the three meet "Miss Eugene Domingo" they are surprised to find out that she also has her own version in mind.

And so, the question: Will you really see Eugene Domingo in a septic tank in this movie? I guess you would have to see it for yourself, sorry I will not spoil it for you. Just make sure you do not leave the theater right away. This is probably the only thing I did not like about this movie. It ends abruptly and it was quite obvious that the audience did not see it coming. Everyone was expecting more, and more was what we got, plus a surprise appearance from Eugene Domingo herself among the audience.

Why should she win an award for this? The answer is simple. That woman is really an actress. Here she gets to portray two roles, but the variety of acting styles that you get from her is just overwhelming. She knows her craft well. She even has a name for each kind of acting she does, and you realize after a quick recollection of her past acting projects that what she is saying is actually true, despite its presentation in the film as a joke. Again, she knows her craft well. Really well. She attacked that Mila role in more ways than one, in line with the vision of each character imagining it, without losing the essence of the character itself, that of a mother struggling to raise her kids despite the grip of poverty. Brilliant.

Another thing I liked about the film is how it gives you a satirical glimpse of what indie film making is all about. This is rather obvious because of the involvement of the other three characters who are indie filmmakers. It is like a playful jab to the whole indie film making industry, from pre-production all the way to the international film festival circuit. In the end, even with the fictional setting of a film within a film, the director still finds a way to ground it to reality thanks to the irony presented in the ending (before the other ending).

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