April 12, 2016
More than ever these days, a new Nora Aunor film is always an event. Local cinephiles will watch it, no matter what. Her latest film in local theaters this week is a collaboration with prolific indie director Adolf Alix, the political drama "Whistleblower."
Zeny Roblado (Nora Aunor), an accountant was rescued by the NBI when she was illegally detained by her boss Lorna Valera (Cherrie Pie Picache). Roblado revealed that Valera's "business" were bogus NGOs which siphoned huge amounts of money from the government only to wind up in the greedy hands of politicians and Valera herself. As Roblado blows the whistle in Senate hearings, the lives of everyone involved in the drama are put through a dangerous wringer.
The movie lasted less than an hour and a half only. The first hour are all familiar events played out like they did on television in the past two years. We were just treated to the sight of these esteemed local actors reinterpreting these events for us again. There was absolutely no doubt that Picache was channeling a certain Madam we all recognize because of the daily showing of her face in the news. The last thirty minutes or so deviated from fact into fiction, seemingly in a hurry to wind things down, yet still end in an open manner.
What made this film more interesting than the news was because director Alix did not shirk from showing the story we do not see in the news -- the intense political machinations behind the scenes everyone suspected but no one actually documented. Laurice Guillen, herself an award-winning actress, slyly played a corrupt senator who knew how to clean up her tracks. Ricky Davao, Yul Servo, Celeste Legaspi and purposely (?) hammy Lloyd Sammartino played her fellow Senators. Theater veteran Leo Rialp played her seemingly noble collaborator in Congress.
Of course, we know Ms. Nora Aunor can play any underdog, disheveled, unkempt, mousy character with her eyes closed, and the Zeny character was again all of these. Admittedly, La Aunor was as good as always, but this role did not exactly look like a big challenge for her talents. On the other hand, she owned this role so deeply that it looked so deceptively and effortlessly easy. Her fellow whistleblowers were played by Ina Feleo and Bernardo Bernardo. Zeny's family members were played by Anita Linda and Carlo Aquino. All of them are also recognized for their acting excellence.
The third angle of this triumvirate is the reporter character played by Angelica Panganiban. She played this role straightforwardly and was not exactly given any moment to shine until the final act when she realizes that her life was also in grave danger. Too bad this aspect was not more thoroughly explored.
In the end, there was a sense of hurry which made the film feel incomplete. For such a short running time, there were so many interesting angles that had been squeezed in but were not fully developed. You somehow feel that there were opportunities which were opened but were ultimately wasted. As an acting showcase, again we are seeing the best actors here, most of them award-winning. In all the rush of the storytelling though, these actors were hardly given adequate scenes for their talents to be highlighted, Nora Aunor included. 6/10.