Sunday, September 12, 2010

Two Funerals - When Grieving is Funny and Entertaining

In Gil Portes’ “Two Funerals”, two corpses from a bus collision in Nueva Ecija gets interchanged. One is sent to a feisty political family in Tuguegarao, the other in Matnog. This sets off a road movie that plies the roads from Cagayan all the way south to Sorsogon for the deceased girl’s family as they desperately try to recover her remains. In the process, they have to return the body of a hitman to his enterprising brother. Taking the long road is Aling Pilar (Tessie Tomas), mother of Carmela (PBB’s iron butterfly Princess Manzon). She is joined by Carmela’s fiancé Gerry (Xian Lim), and the funeral parlor’s Tommy (Jeffrey Quizon) and driver Tonyo (Leo Mier). Along the way, they encounter a series of zany characters that color this very Pinoy palette.

It is a fascinating ride that superficially sweeps through characters and tradition, as well as detestable practices that make this society a morbid landscape. We have cops who never miss their opportunity to encroach on the liberties of others just to earn a buck; the Catholic priest who preaches what he doesn’t follow, and the congressman whose sweet words send a girl to her untimely demise.

But the story telling, though intermittently awkward in presentation, is buoyed by the performance of Tessie Tomas, without whom, the narrative would have caved in from the film’s lofty ambition of indoctrinating a multitude of societal dilemma and cultural norms. Employing the Holy Week as backdrop to the ongoing narrative further moves the story, and though its slapdash social commentaries are not exactly successful in execution, you cannot deny the inherent charm that eventually filter through the major characters.

Jeffrey Quizon plays the closeted Tommy who’s married with children. He provides welcome humor to an otherwise sullen subject as his conflicted character grapples against his sexuality. He resisted so hard to join the long journey, but a pleading Gerry (Xian Lim) placing his arm around his shoulder is enough motivation to change his resolve. I was snickering at my seat. Xian Lim, on the other hand, has commanding screen presence, but his dramatic skill isn’t quite there yet. He is introduced in this film. When he sorrowfully laments for his lost love, we find him too green and a bit awkward. This doesn’t mean we find him bad. Far from it! In fact, with a few more experience, he would make a fantastic lead – and we can’t wait for that moment. But right now, everyone has to start somewhere, and his baby steps are a welcome spotlight.

Forget the negative reviews that you read online. I don’t care about Portes’ abhorrent “Pitik Bulag”. He once gave us the wonderful “Mulanay”. And really now, we don’t critique a movie based on his past works. This film can proudly stand on its own, and anybody who declares it as “the worst of Cinemalaya” is nothing but a disgruntled soul for he predicates his judgment on certain biases. That this is allegedly a plagiarized work is of no consequence to me either, as the end product for the paying audience is good cinema. My money was well spent!

Are these people even aware of the dregs that we get to write about in this blogsite; the mindless trash of incoherent gay-flesh drivel that is being shown week after week in commercial cinema? I have waded through a mockery of Filipino artistry. I have seen ALL local and commercial releases this year, and calling “Two Funerals” anything less than good is pure insanity! Shake off those arrogant boots and actually use your cerebral grey and white matter!

Two Funerals” is without a doubt a good movie! It doesn’t succeed in some of its ambitions, but it has an undeniable charm that entertains and delivers the goods!

Xian Lim: future looks bright!

Xian Lim: future looks six-packed! ;->


Dempsey Sanders said...

Well I had yet to hear about this movie, so luckily I haven't read any bad reviews yet. It does seem right up my street actually, certainly worth a watch from your review. Great write up

Cathy P. said...

That was fast. Your comment came as I was doing last-minute editing for this piece. Here’s the review (and comments) I was talking about - It is entertaining, and these days, when I get to watch something better than what I am accustomed from mainstream Pinoy films, I am just a grateful soul.

I've visited your blog and have to admit I was surprised you're British. It will take a while before this film gets out in the market, but my 2 cents worth believes it will since this is a Cinemalaya entry (which means, it has a foreign market).