Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Mother's Story

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

A make-up artist and mother of two, Medy (Pokwang) serves as the family’s breadwinner due to her husband’s disability. One day she gets the chance to participate in a supposedly one-week gig in the US. Initially reluctant to be an illegal worker, she eventually ends up as one due to a series of events leading her to take advantage of her visa and do what some Filipinos typically do once they set foot on American soil. Seven days become seven years. Now, her then new-born daughter (Xyriel Manabat) does not know her; the abandoned son (Rayver Cruz) is hesitant to let her back into his life; and her husband (Nonie Buencamino) is living a bigamous life with their kumare.

Is this a rehash of Anak? Well, to give you a short answer: YES. The thing is, Star Cinema might own that movie, but they do not own this generic storyline simply because this has been, and will probably always be, a reality for most of us Filipinos. In short, this story is communal property. You might not have an OFW family member but it would not be too farfetched to think that you personally know one who does, or who is, himself. This tale will never get old because it is relived over and over again. If that is the case then why watch? Because unlike Anak, this one is also heavy but attacks the story in a manner that would not drown you with hysterics. And of course, you could relate to it, with a few laughs along the way.

Maybe Pokwang is the weakest link, but casting her is just right since she gives you both comedy and drama in one package. In a way you would be hesitant at first to acknowledge whether she would be able to touch you through her portrayal because of her reputation as a comedy actress. Surprisingly, she does. With a solid support cast by her side, she is able to deliver. There is also that issue of credibility. Why cast a loud comedy actress in a predominantly dramatic role? At first I did not want to believe that she would be convincing because she is one of those actresses whose personalities just overshadow the characters they portray onscreen. I do not see Medy here. I see Pokwang. And then it suddenly dawned on me, Pokwang does not need to be Medy to be believable, because at one point in her life she was an OFW too. Remember when she was just starting and that story about her child dying while she was abroad surfaced? She experienced this life first hand, and a more tragic version at that. Armed with that piece of information it would not be that hard for you to believe that the emotion she shows onscreen is not just for show. She might even be overqualified to play this role.

The plot is not that linear and there are flashbacks strategically placed to build up the climax. They inject many punch lines and the good thing about it is that they do not seem that contrived unlike in most Wenn Derramas dramedies where Ai Ai cries just to remind us that she could do drama too. That heavy crying scene between Pokwang and Daria Ramirez comes to mind where Medy finally shares what happens to her in the US and then the issue of Skype is suddenly brought up out of the blue. It does interrupt the moment but it does not appear as a forced plot device thrown in just to tell you that it is not a hard core drama film, which is good because the scene does not go overboard, as opposed to a typical OFW drama where the characters would be too close for comfort to dehydration by now after a toxic hysterical scene with all the floor crawling and endless tears.

And that is what you would like about A Mother’s Story. It is funny without being too gimmicky. It is dramatic without leaving you that emotionally drained after watching. It is cliché but it is refreshing. And as already mentioned, it is our story too. Congratulations to the cast and crew!

Ganito dapat ang mga palabas sa MMFF.

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