Saturday, September 21, 2019

Lola Igna


Lola Igna (Angie Ferro) is the oldest living grandmother in the Philippines. At 118 years old, she is in the running for an award from the Amazing People of the World which will see her awarded with a truckload of cash as well as prestige. Her newfound fame proves to be a tourism draw for her humble little town, her small hut becoming an instant tourist attraction. People all over the country come in droves for a visit and to take a selfie with her. One of them is Tim (Yves Flores), a millennial vlogger who turns out to be her estranged granddaughter Ana’s (Meryll Soriano) son. Tired of living and openly yearning for death, Lola Igna finds a new reason to live with the arrival of her great grandson, but fate has such a wicked sense of humor that is bound to take both of them by surprise.

Lola Igna starts off with the mundane details of the old woman’s daily routine, from the moment she squats on her arinola until she calls it a day and wait for death that just won’t come. When Tim enters the scene, the central theme of death makes way for the storyline to focus more on the grandparent-grandchild dynamics that at first is also boring to watch but effectively simmers to eventually give you all the feels triggered by personal memories with your very own grandmas. It’s that slow burn kind of feel that gives this narrative its edge as far as its style of storytelling is concerned.

As for the theme of death, the plot plays around with irony as Lola Igna watches people way younger than her die before she does, death choosing to skip her all the time. Given her background as the town’s midwife who aided in the birth of almost everyone there, superstition comes into play as to why she has lived such a long life. She has a scene where she vents out about her situation in all her drunken stupor. While it comes off as a bit funny, the truth in her words just hits you with a lot of realizations about life.

The film also presents a relative view of death from various perspectives. You have a woman who has lived a long life and is simply tired and wants to end life as it is. And then you also have the people who are left behind. Perhaps this is where Lola Igna really makes a difference in this genre, you get to see the points of view from both the person leaving and those left behind. In most films regarding death, it’s usually focused more on just one party, which makes everything feel one-sided. Here, you witness a debate of sorts that leads to many epiphanies.

Of course, there is a twist in the end, which leaves you scratching your head, but provokes all kinds of emotions nonetheless. Once again, it’s a proof that sometimes fate has a different plan for us, shattering our illusions that we are in total control of our lives, or our deaths in this matter. The message is powerful depending on your own perspective of life and death. You will more or less compare Lola Igna’s circumstances with your own, and it’s always good to see things from another person’s perspective.

All in all it is still a family drama just anchored on an old woman obsessed with death and everything that comes along with such concept. With brilliant acting from both Ferro and Flores, what you get is a narrative that is heavy on both philosophy and feels about death and how it affects the person dying as well as everyone around him or her.

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