Film Notes
by Pablo A. Tariman

For some reasons, one overlooked watching Joyce Bernal’s “Everything About Her” on its opening week. Taking a respite from deadlines, one watched in a less crowded Thursday screening and discovered a finely crafted family drama one should have watched earlier.

Vilma Santos with co-stars Angel Locsin, Xian Lim and Vangie Labalan in "Everything About Her." A moving family drama simply told

Vilma Santos with co-stars Angel Locsin, Xian Lim and Vangie Labalan in “Everything About Her.” A moving family drama simply told

The Bernal film is set in two contrasting milieus: a simple family living on available income with a contented padre de familia (Nonie Buencamino) who has learned to accept the long absence of his wife (Shamaine Centenera Buencamino).

The other milieu is a corporate world where a lady corporate mogul named Dr. Vivian Rabaya (Vilma Santos) is queen. She has worked hard to get the company get to its superior status now and nothing will stand in the way. But in the process, she lost a husband and figured in time-consuming custody court battles with ex-husband for their only son.

When a nurse named Jaica Domingo (Angel Locsin) set foot in Rabaya’s kingdom, the cultural strain was pronounced and almost embarrassing for both of them.

Rabaya hates women in unfashionable get-up; Jaica wants to be herself and indeed she is — even at the expense of office protocol.

Then when the highly driven CEO discovers she has cancer, her corporate outlook changes and indeed, she begins to reconnect with her estranged son, Albert Mitra (Xian Lim).

How the three coped with the corporate mogul’s personal crisis is the dramatic stuff of “Everything About Her” which unfolded without frills and straight into the heart and soul of the protagonists.

Vilma Santos and Vangie Labalan in "Everything About Her".

Vilma Santos and Vangie Labalan in “Everything About Her”.

The story is simply told thus giving it a natural flow. The direction makes the film appealing for both millennials and non-millennials alike. You are almost tempted to wish and hope the film would end ala-Ishmael Bernal or ala-Lino Brocka.

But Direk Bernal is into her own generation and knows her present audiences at the palm of her hand. Some dramatic scenes actually ended up funny but the actors were so versatile you end up laughing and in tears at the same time.

Indeed, the performances of both lead actors and supporting cast were so compelling you felt almost everyone in the cast deserved an acting award.

The surprise actor in the cast was Xian Lim who delivered not just a focused performance but a highly stirring one. His hospital scene with Vilma Santos was a stand-out one could hear people quietly sobbing behind me.

Angel Locsin has no match as a supporting actress, the part of Nonie Buencamino (as the padre de familia) has all the hallmark of a good actor and the part of Shamaine Centenera Buencamino and Vangie Labalan (no matter how brief) registered with layers of pathos.

Most of all, this could be Vilma Santos’ best performance todate. The transition of her character from corporate mogul to repentant mother revealed the true artist in her.

The musical scoring blended with the story but my favorite part is the household scenes with the character of Vilma Santos noting the significance of the chandelier in the living room with a movement from Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 in the background.

The grandness of the music matched the leading character’s grand ambition. It is also gratifying to find classical music find its way in a family drama.

Vilma Santos with Xian Lim

Vilma Santos with Xian Lim

Indeed, one regretted missing this film on opening week. For this is a film that strikes a highly vulnerable chord in everyone with the director unraveling the story without the usual mawkish elements that go with drama as often seen in teleseryes.

Indeed, this is a moving film minus the emotional clutters.

In this film one finally saw the superior film sensibility of Bb. Joyce Bernal. It is easily my first best film for 2016.

“Everything About Her” is still showing in cinemas.

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