URBAN BLIGHT

Film Notes
URBAN BLIGHT

By Pablo A. Tariman

“Pamilya Ordinaryo” is a cold yet gripping contrast to the well-off families showing off good manners and gentile laughter in such places as Club Filipino.

A selfie scene from "Pamilya Ordinaryo with lead actors Ronwaldo Martin and Hasmine Killip." A classic tale of art imitating life.

A selfie scene from “Pamilya Ordinaryo with lead actors Ronwaldo Martin and Hasmine Killip.” A classic tale of art imitating life.

The story of this Eduardo Roy, Jr. film is initially seen in CCTV cameras and then given life in subsequent narrative that is scorching and as it is so true to life. It is a story straight from CCT cameras now one of the main sources of stories for prime time news.

Indeed, the film feels like a documentary with a no-holds barred portrayal of the city’s street-dwellers. You are initially introduced to the work-a-day world of teen mother named Jane (Hasmine Killip) who copes with the daily struggles of teen motherhood.

His equally young partner Aries (Ronwaldo Martin) is equally half-aware of the duties of fatherhood but he moves on (like his partner) guided by sharp instinct for survival.

How they survive is coldly documented by the film which (as always) begins with CCTV camera footage. You come to terms with raw life as young father gets by victimizing passersby and at the end of the day, they try to make it through the night by making love right there in that small, cramp space with very little provision for complete privacy. As it is, sex makes for partial relief from day-to-day struggles and they turn to it out of sheer instinct to live another day.

On the other hand, the film is another documentary on teen parenthood and how young parents cope. The baby is yet another source of fragile strength and commitment and they are challenged when it is snatched by another character from the underworld.

Like it or not, “Pamilya Ordinaryo” explores several layers of exploitation of poor families living in the streets of the big city. The media find them a good subject for reality shows and as it turns out, they are no better than the other exploiters who offer free meals in exchange of comprehensive interviews that will project their hapless lives to media targets.

Bed scene from "Pamilya Ordinaryo." Sensuality as relief from day-today struggles.

Bed scene from “Pamilya Ordinaryo.” Sensuality as relief from day-today struggles.

Indeed, they are prey to assorted exploiters like this con woman who claims to be the snatcher’s mother and without so much as by-your-leave, asks for fare money going to the provinces to help couple locate an erring son. Meanwhile, they get assorted text messages after their appeal is aired on radio. One of which leads them to a gated subdivision but alas, young mother’s instinct tells her it is not her own baby.

The film’s basic appeal is its honesty as it once again dissects present Philippine society as seen in the sidewalks of Metro Manila. For the nth time, you see another sample of police shenanigan exemplified by actor Mengie Cobarrubias whose character asks young mother to demonstrate how she feeds her baby. In this scene, you get the sexual history of the teen mother who ended up in the streets after fleeing from an uncaring family.

For what it is, the film is a well-acted one starting from the ensemble of actors from lower depth to the lead actors who didn’t look like actors but as true-to-life sample of desolate figures of urban blight.

Martin as Aries carves a sensitive portrayal of a teen father who must steal and by turns, sell his body to feed a family. His is a classic figure of exploitation and of warped innocence.

Hasmine Killip as Jane is a natural actor who didn’t have to act for the camera. Her image on the CCTV camera authenticates her role in real life and she does it with cold, if, relentless authenticity. There was never any scene in the movie where she was out of character. She is Jane the teen mother the very moment camera unlocks her character.

Roy is a good storyteller and his own unique style that may not suit the conventional expectations of mainstream audiences.

Team 'Pamilya Ordinaryo': Director Eduardo Roy, Jr., stars Ronwaldo Martin and Hasmine Killip and producers Almond Derla and Ferdinand Lapuz in Venice after winning the Venice Days' BNL Audience Award. (Photo posted by Ferdinand Lapuz on his Facebook page)

Team ‘Pamilya Ordinaryo’: Director Eduardo Roy, Jr., stars Ronwaldo Martin and Hasmine Killip and producers Almond Derla and Ferdinand Lapuz in Venice after winning the Venice Days’ BNL Audience Award. (Photo posted by Ferdinand Lapuz on his Facebook page)

The film ends abruptly precisely to capture a young couple’s predicament but audiences in that screening found a story ending too soon.

But it doesn’t distract from the fact that it is a well-made film full of uncomfortable truths about what passes for the straight path (“tuwid na daan”) in this our politics-ridden country.

It deserves its Grade A rating from the Cinema Evaluation Board and is headed for the Venice Film Festival.

“Pamilya Ordinaryo” directed by Eduardo Roy, Jr. is still showing in some cinemas.

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