Saturday, September 30, 2006

AUNOR BACK TO SUPERLATIVE FORM IN LACKLUSTER DIGITAL INDIE

By: Rito Asilo As Published In The Philippine Daily Inquirer September 30, 2006 Page F1


INGRATA

Director: Joey A. Gonzales

Stars: Nora Aunor, Bernardo Bernardo, John Robert Porter Jr. (aka John
Rendez), Germaine de Leon

Fans of Superstar Nora Aunor have something to rejoice about with
her second foray into digital indies in the US. (Her first, Suzette
Ranillo's Care Home about a Filipino professor reduced to working
as a caregiver in America, has yet to be released locally.) She was
last seen in Maryo J. delos Reyes' interesting but flawed May-
September drama, Naglalayag (2004).

Joey Gonzales' relevant but ornately convoluted melodrama follows
the story of Bea (Nora Aunor) 10 years after she leaves her two-
timing husband in the Philippines for a new lease on life, luck and
love in the United States.

Sense Of Resignation

But the sheen of Bea's fabled American Dream has faded: She juggles
two jobs (as a gas station attendant and waitress in a videoke bar)
to support her brilliant daughter's college education, lives in a
shabby mobile home, and has settled into a crippling sense of
resignation as she awaits the release of her abusive, freeloading
new hubby, Noli (an unrecognizably heavy John Rendez aka John Robert
Porter Jr.), a former actor-singer in Manila and sex-chat addict --
who has been languishing in prison for the past year.

Her dreary existence is further shaken when she gets a call from her
gay older brother, Hermie (Bernardo Bernardo), an advertising
executive who also packed up his bags in Manila for greener pastures
in "the land of milk and honey," whom she's forced to take in.

Dilemma

But, as the day of Noli's release draws closer, she's suddenly
sucked into an existential dilemma: How has she been reduced to this
sad, tired woman? Has she lost sight of her dreams forever?

In recent years, the Superstar's distinctly attention-calling acting
mannerisms have blighted her reputation as the country's premier
actress. And, while many of her highly anticipated starrers were
well-intentioned, they were nevertheless overwrought tearjerkers or
middling dramas that featured self-conscious, inconsistent
performances.
Result: That "acting na acting" schtick has made Aunor fodder for
impersonation -- gay or otherwise.

Long Overdue

Ingrata marks Nora's long overdue return to superlative thespic
form -- she looks natural and relaxed. Look, Ma, no grunts this
time! She delivers an indelible performance that would be hard to
beat in next year's acting derbies. Indeed, at her peak, no one
inhabits a character better than La Aunor -- and we couldn't be
happier for the embattled actress! Don't miss the movie if only for
Ate Guy's latest dramatic triumph.

The film, however, isn't as successful. As with most digital
productions shown locally, its production values leave much to be
desired: A sequence shows Aunor singing Kahit Na Magtiis at the
videoke bar where her character works, but for most of it, we only
hear instrumental accompaniment -- a waste of a golden opportunity
to showcase the legendary Superstar's fine voice!

Bernardo, for his part, also comes up with a sensitive performance
as the protagonist's brother, who has to worry about more than just
his immigration status. The actor has a calming presence.
Unfortunately, Rendez turns in a one-note characterization -- you
don't understand how a sensitive soul like Bea could fall for
someone who doesn't show her any affection.

Visual Medium

On point of picture quality, the movie fares better than the recent digital flicks we’ve seen. But, it’s still inferior to many mainstream features -- with a couple of distorted images here and there. Digital or not, film is still a visual medium, after all. If a movie isn’t pleasing to the eyes, then something must be wrong somewhere…

Though minor in thematic scope and cinematic ambition and dragged down by inconsistencies in characterization and narrative detail, Gonzales’ film shows viewers the darker side of the American Dream -- that the face of poverty is the same wherever you are.

As Hermie succinctly explains: "Iisa ang mukha ng paghihirap -- sa Pilipinas man o sa Amerika." But, will Bea ever find her way out of her existential quagmire, if and when she is presented with the opportunity for emancipation?

2 comments:

pauljames said...

hello jojo!!!

i'm truly ecstatic that finally another movie of nora will be shown in the philippines. was it well received back home? have you seen it personally? in what way is nora promoting her movie since she is based here in the states? it would be better if a bigger movie outfit like star cinema or regal films can produce a movie for our superstar. this would further boost marketing and promotion to encourage more people to watch her movie.

jeremiah said...

can you do us a favor?

can you announce on this site kapag nailagay na sa DVD (for sale) ang "ingrata"? so that i can buy a copy... thanks