A SEXAGENARIAN GOES BACK TO SCHOOL
by Pablo A. Tariman
Cia Hermosa-Jorge’s “Old Skool” premiered Thursday last week unravels like a well-loved family scrap book focusing on a 69-year old grandma trying to find a life after the death of a dear husband.
It takes a very short while to warm up and find the heart of this film full of poignant chapters in a solitary, if, lonely life of a 69 year-old widow. But she quickly finds her bearing and turns to unfinished grade school studies as her final goal. Coping with high blood and mild stroke, she achieves her goal and finishes at the top of her class.
Finally, here is a film that both grandparents and grandchildren can relate to with ease. The film is a good delineation of the old and young generation while it tries to salvage the good old values that already looked anachronistic in cyber age.
By and large, the film is a good advertisement on the value of education especially to the senior citizens trapped by early parenthood.
It is a film that should teach young people how to treat later bloomers in school.
Indeed, the film has many things going for it.
Tessie Tomas in the lead role turns in a very marked, if, well-nuanced performance as the 69-year old Tia Fely. The director spent a lot of frames visualizing her lonely moments and it is just as well to show what solitary women like her go through.
Moreover, she has a very touching cemetery scene and as days turn into weeks and months, it is obvious she needs something to keep her busy.
As her only daughter (Angel Aquino) leaves for another work assignment, she has to cope with bouts of boredom and later, utter restlessness ensues.
Then she comes across a medal of her unfinished grade school days and decides, she will go back to school.
But it won’t be that easy as she thought.
In school, she gets derisions right and left and more so from the school bully played marvelously by Buboy Villar. His transition from bully to well-mannered adopted grandson provides the film with its whacky, unruly and later, some poignant moments indeed.
This could be Villar’s best role so far and one won’t be surprised if he gets an acting award in this film.
Providing sharp contrast to the mother’s loneliness is the aggressive, if, driven daughter played with intensity by Angel Aquino.
Again, the transition of the character of Aquino from the driven (single?) mother to a more caring daughter gives the film some of its pivotal character contrasts.
Made on an indie film budget, “Old Skool” has a lot of mainstream appeal from the musical scoring of Nonong Buencamino to its spontaneous storytelling.
On the whole, it is a film that an entire family can enjoy. It lives up to the GP rating without sacrificing crucial scenes in the movie.
It has loving echoes of Lino Brocka’s “Inay” but the comparison ends there.
The present time and setting makes “|Old Skool” an engrossing film about sexagenarians trying to cope with the new age.
On the other hand, one likes the special sensitivity of the director, Cia Hermosa-Jorge, who managed to give us a moving story without concocting melodramatic situations to appeal to the emotions of its viewers
It is obvious she loves the story, she was obviously inspired by the subject and with limited budget, and she was able to wrap up a project that can appeal to both the young and old.
Like it or not, “Old Skool” lives up to the standard of the director’s mentor, Marilou Diaz Abaya.
You leave the theater energized that yes, the twilight season of senior citizens need not be a winter of discontent.
“Old Skool” opens in all SM cinemas on November 4.