Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Tuhog

♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

The lives of three individuals get entangled as a result of a highway accident that leaves them impaled by a single steel bar, the very instrument of their impending death which ironically keeps them alive for the time being by preventing further hemorrhage. Fiesta Dacanay (Eugene Domingo) is the perpetually grumpy bus barker who makes bus drivers cry. Tonio Sicat (Leo Martinez) is the retired and almost senile head of a family of four who decides to pursue his lifelong dream of having his own bakery. Caloy Sucat (Enchong Dee) is the young student whose biggest problem seems to be his and his girlfriend’s virginity. Rushed to a hospital that only has two operating rooms, one of them is bound to die. The question is who? Who should? Who would? When it comes to death, is there really such a criteria wherein one is more deserving than another?

The plot forces you to think about the story’s main question: Who should die? Why is this so? After presenting the main premise, which is that of the bus accident and the rather unusual manner by which the three main characters got injured, the film then shows a series of flashbacks that detail the lives of every character, as if asking you to deliberate on who should die and who should live. While each of their life stories is  dealt with separately, several scenes show how every one of them crosses paths before the accident, along with a beggar kid who tells them in different occasions that they are going to die. One of the good aspects of the movie is the contrast highlighted through the lives of the three individuals, more or less representing the age bracket in which they belong, and the usual dilemmas that come with it.

Tonio deals with old age and how his family tends to see him as some useless and forgetful old man who acts like a kid. As the doctor tells them that one of them will die, he announces to everyone that it should be him, given how he has already lived a full life. Nevertheless, you would feel sympathy for him because of the way he has lived his life, always putting his family first. It is only now that he is getting to follow his passion, and Martinez’s brilliant portrayal really gives you that impression of excitement, as if he just started his life anew. As such, you would not really want him to die just like that.

Fiesta is the stereotypical old maid: bitter, dominant, and has an interesting story to tell. Her name is already ironic as it is, given how her life is far from being the party that it implies. Left by her mother to her alcoholic father when she was young, this woman seriously has issues. She finds another reason to live as a love story between her and new hire Nato (Jake Cuenca) starts to blossom, but even that does not come without complications. Of the three, she seems to be the one who would readily volunteer to die, but you could not help but pity her because she could still be given another shot at happiness, which everyone deserves. Domingo goes for underacting this time around and her subtle actions are rewarding because it gives the character the depth needed to give it justice.

Caloy is the typical teenager with raging hormones. The movie makes it a point to demonstrate how crazy he is when it comes to love and sex, and for that you would think that he has the pettiest concern of the three. It is interesting, though, how one of the oldies in Tonio’s circle comments indirectly on this by voicing out his observation on how kids tend to think that it is the end of the world when it comes to love. Dee is no teenager in real life but he is able to pull this one off, a feat that is not that difficult to accomplish because of his baby face. Despite the shallowness of his dilemma, he is the prohibitive favorite to live because he is young, and is yet to experience what matters more in life.

Despite tackling the serious and often intimidating issue of death, the film is not without funny moments, and the good thing about it is how these comedy scenes are attacked with subtlety which catches the audience off-guard. More than that, what makes the movie interesting is how realizations regarding mortality are derived from the depiction of mundane daily routine. It paints life as some sort of crossroads where everyone shares the same pathways but see them differently because of what they are experiencing at the moment. The movie’s message is summarized by the voice-over of the beggar kid, who probably thinks that the audience would not be able to read between the lines. This is a dark comedy, and the movie gets to straddle both dark and comedy somehow without being too formulaic.

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