There was something very gratifying watching Bona Fajardo's "Iliw" (Nostalgia). For one, I felt like my admission fee was money well spent. The scenography was breathtakingly well composed and the picture sparkled like this was made yesterday. Some portions may seem like a glorified slideshow (with static images flashing one after the other) it was a cinematic artifice: ill-advised, but nevertheless valid. Its superlative cinematography justifiably evokes a far-gone era that deserves pragmatic remembrance. After all, cinema is a visual medium and telling a good story should start with good visuals; and this boasts of a keen eye that complements its gripping narrative..
Regardless, real love would have pushed Takahashi to actually marry Fidela. After all, the Japanese commander's best friend was Father Josef (Gian Sotto). He could have asked the priest to perform the matrimonial ceremony within the hushed confines of the church. Living with Fidela conveniently exposed her to malicious calumny and scorn. This makes Takahashi's intentions suspect; thus painted his character as a predatory scoundrel, instead of the dashing paramour that's romantically intended for his character.
I have scruples with some of the casting choices. Ping Medina doesn't quite cut as the suave boy next door who's pining for Fidela's affections. Medina looked awkward and floundering. In the past, Medina has personified the rough and rugged everyman that picturing him otherwise was far from fetching. Irma Adlawan, playing Fidela's mother, makes the most of her limited screen time and though she could have been perfect, she mines her every scene like it was her awards-ceremony clip. Magnifying emotions tend to lend mediocrity to a cinematic moment because the scene transforms into caricature. I'm referring to 2 particular scenes: the opening where she's supposedly "aligaga" preparing for a party; then the scene where she kneels down the ground crying her little heart out for the "death" of her son Santiago. This eager beaver attitude is perfect when you're the lead in movies like "Sa North Diversion Road" or "Mga Pusang Gala"; not in elegiac movies like "Iliw".
Despite these trivial notes, "Iliw" compels you to travel back into a time of strife and rumpled romance. Beautiful scenography, empathetic leads, and the crowd-pleasing use of Imago's "Sundo" as the credits roll - they all pony up for a great time at the cinema.
|Irma Adlawan plays the heroine's mother: Bad theater habits.|