IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES

Film Notes
IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES
by Pablo A. Tariman

A film like “Silong” offers moviegoers a chance to explore another world and right into the strange labyrinth of the mind.

In the beginning, there is reason to believe the character of Piolo Pascual as Dr. Miguel Cascarro is perfectly normal.

Piolo Pascual and Rhian Ramos in "Silong." A deeply felt portrayal.

Piolo Pascual and Rhian Ramos in “Silong.” A deeply felt portrayal.

His psyche obviously resides in the peace and quiet of the countryside where he practices his profession. It looks like he has wide and diverse taste as he dabbles into music; he plays the cello and as soon you hear the piercing sound, you know that the character is deep into something inexplicable.

But his house also tells a lot. It probably has a happy past as he attempts to save it from being foreclosed.

But the key to the film is actually its teaser: “The deepest scars are the ones you can’t see.”

The first good thing about the film is that it doesn’t talk much; it shows the present and plunges into the past and as you try to piece together the images, you know you are slowly discovering something out of the ordinary.

Then this lady in distress named Valerie (Rhian Ramos) comes into the picture and the doctor comes to her rescue. He treats her wound and in the process succumbs to her charm; he can’t wait no longer as they make out on top of the dining table and the lady doesn’t resist.

For a while, you can sense that this compassion for the “battered wife” is turning into romance. You cheer them as they engage in such lofty-sounding conversation in the garden and under the stars.

Piolo Pascual as the cellist-doctor. In the beginning, everything was perfectly normal in the countryside house.

Piolo Pascual as the cellist-doctor. In the beginning, everything was perfectly normal in the countryside house.

Just as you thought the characters would settle down and start a new life, you get a strange view of how their minds work.

It is disconcerting because the good doctor has the looks of a gentleman so generous to fault; and the lady looks vulnerable and willing to gamble on what looks like the beginning of a good relationship.

When the film ends with a full view of the countryside house and with the doors closing, you feel like you were given access to the inner sanctum of the house without its owner knowing.

It is at once disturbing and in the end, quite horrifying.

As a thriller, “Silong” succeeds and indeed it is a solid output of the directorial tandem of Jeffrey Hidalgo and Roy Sevilla Ho.

Ho’s script and screenplay hews closely to the story with more visuals than dialogue. The film scoring by Teresa Barroso is fairly competent and with an apt production design by Rolando Rubenecia.

In the acting department, Raymund Concepcion as the police chief gives a well-delineated part with a long but well-nuanced dialogue that started when he and his companion are served coffee. Concepcion begins very businesslike and as his dialogue progresses, you see the sinister and all-knowing language of his eyes and body. (He was so good one wished he had more scenes in the film than this one.)

Angel Jacob as the mysterious woman registers very well with nary a dialogue.

Rhian Ramos as Valerie delivers a safe delineation without losing the dual nature of her character. It is a very daring portrayal and the fact that she tried it for what it was worth was a telling comment on her commitment as an actress.

Directors Jeffrey Hidalgo and Roy Sevilla Ho. An auspicious directorial debut.

Directors Jeffrey Hidalgo and Roy Sevilla Ho. An auspicious directorial debut.

Pascual’s good looks serve him well in the beginning of the film until his character shows another unexpected layer. He has a good grip on the part but one wished he did just as well to provide a good character contrast. But his subtle approach actually succeeds to camouflage the character’s other side. It is just as well because as the teaser invokes (“The deepest scars are the ones you can’t see”), Pascual indeed has reasons to tone down the perplexing side of his character.

Few Filipino filmmakers dare do films on this delicate subject and for this reason, you know that the directors can be highly commended for treading on the rarely untrodden path in filmmaking.

Go and watch “Silong” (it is still showing in some theaters).

You might end up discovering something in yourself you didn’t know actually exists.

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