If you're a smart cookie raring to watch something that feeds your brain, you can't go wrong with Raul Jorolan's "The Red Shoes". I have to warn you though that all this intellectualizing can go overboard, so instead of charming its audience, it may just turn them off instead. But patience is a virtue, and I'd rather invest my patience on smart flicks like this one than the garbage of "Parisukat", "Pilantik", "Fidel" (in my book, the worst film to come out in 2010 - and an easy candidate for the decade's worst!), "Ben and Sam" and well, most of the films of Neal and Joven Tan, and Cris Pablo. While others compete for excellence, these aforementioned compete for pretension and mediocrity!
I watched "The Red Shoes" with my bff Kyle and my soul sister Iya (who 3 weeks ago swore off Tagalog films after watching "SpedHearts", "Pilantik" and "Fidel" - she claimed her brain actually shrunk by 50% - hahaha). We had to transfer from Galleria to Megamall coz the former pulled "The Red Shoes" out after just 2 days!
As the story would have it, Lucas (Marvin Agustin) stole a pair of Imelda Marcos' red shoes at the height of the 1986 Edsa Revolution - and attributed the misdeed in the name of justice and love! He eventually gave one shoe to his mother Chat (Liza Lorena) and the other to his childhood girlfriend Bettina (Nikki Gil). Chat refuses to move on 13 years after her husband Domingo (Tirso Cruz III) accidentally perished and got buried under the rubble of the Manila Film Center! She has visited 13 ispiritistas (seance) and spent a fortune on them for the hint of Domingo's whereabouts! In comes Madame Vange (Tessie Tomas), an Imelda Marcos impersonator who's believed to possess the power to get through souls of the departed. Meanwhile, another girl (Iwa Moto) is out to seduce Lucas. And the plot thickens.
The movie itself reminds me of the snappy dialogues of a Danny Zialcita film in his heyday where every character (from the yaya to the driver, from the tindera to the sidewalk bypasser) speaks with delicious cadence and syncopated spunk! I remembered bribing the family driver (with my meager school allowance) to wander around while my yaya and I would sneak inside Cubao movie houses. I was really too young to go on my own. But I relished on the sense of freedom. And the pleasures of the silver screen to an 8 year old child! Cinema was pure magic!
"The Red Shoes" wallows in metaphors and Jorolan peppers his narrative with smart food-for-thought and seemingly trivial fyi's - e.g. the top 3 cinematic bridges of New York; the body's pressure points; the sternocleidomastoids and deltoids and other muscular landmarks of the body (at some point, I was already raising my brows with annoyance; she SHOULD know her muscular system because she's a Physical Therapist. Otherwise she'd be an idiot, wouldn't she? But they were laying on the smarts overtime.)
There was this anecdote about Jose Rizal who lost one shoe at a river (and what he does with the other). This figured rather dramatically as the movie draws to its conclusion, and I appreciate how it drove the idea that even a single shoe has its worth!
Marvin and Nikki are charismatic actors, but there's something amiss from their pairing. It doesn't quite catch fire! This is not saying they did poorly because that would be an injustice. In fact, on their own, Marvin and Nikki delivered commendable performances that should alert the other smart filmmakers of their presence! Their chemistry on the other hand tips toward being lukewarm, and for lack of a more appropriate term, there is a degree of detachment, which is too bad since this is after all a romantic movie! I need to be swept off my feet when I watch a romantic film!
This observation should not deter its makers from producing more movies. Obviously, this is a very talented group of people who takes the time to put "brains" into their work. At a time like this where, 4 of the 5 local films that are being shown monthly turn out bad (read: exploitative brain-dead gay films), we need films like "The Red Shoes". It deserves my P160 and my patronage!
To the Galleria idiots who pulled out "The Red Shoes" after just 2 days of showing (while the appalling "Ben and Sam" and "Parisukat" stay on), SHAME ON YOU!