August 2, 2012
"Posas" is the Best Picture winner in the last Cinemalaya Film Festival, Director's Showcase category. Honestly, I overlooked this movie during the festival because of the generic title. However, because of its award, I went to see it today when it had a special showing in a nearby mall.
Watching this film is not easy. It is a harrowing experience as the director Lawrence Fajardo literally takes you through the entire experience of a young petty thief named Jestoni Biag (Nico Antonio) on one fateful day when he made the mistake of stealing the iPhone 4S of feisty and sexy call center agent Ms. Maria Grace Resuello (Bangs Garcia).
Without divulging any spoiling details, you as the audience will watch in pained disgust and horror as the policemen who arrest Jestoni, led by Police Officer Domingo (Best Supporting Actor winner Art Acuna), do MORE than simply shackle him in handcuffs. Paraphrasing the tagline, "The day they set him free, was the first day of his life sentence."
You will never want to walk the streets of Quiapo again after watching this film. You will see the underbelly of that district. You will see corruption in actual action. It purports to show how and why the criminal justice system of our country is in shambles. Having the television coverage of the recent Chief Justice impeachment trial in one scene is an effective and telling juxtaposition.
"Posas" is scary. This movie is that gritty and realistic. I dare not imagine how much of this exposition was based on actual facts. It is not a pretty picture of Manila. It is not a pretty picture of our police force. This story needs to be told for our awareness, but it certainly won't do our tourism any favors. It sort of gives us a hopeless feeling after the last frame, and that is a real downer.
"Posas" is really a very well-made film technical-wise, in terms of its cinematography and editing. The actors were really very realistic as in their roles as rouge cops and jaded goons. The heavy drama was lightened by a funny guest appearance of John Lapuz as a silly budol- budol gang victim.
However, the pervasive spirit of negativism in this film is very difficult to accept, and the one factor why, if I were a judge, I would NOT have voted for it as Best Picture award. I would guess though, that in the world of indie critics, that negativism may be more of the norm than the exception.