Wednesday, May 3, 2017

CINELOKAL 2017: Review of IADYA MO KAMI: Weak and Wishy-Washy

May 2, 2017

Cine Lokal is a partnership between the Film Development Council of the Philippines with SM Cinemas aimed at providing indie filmmakers a commercial venue for their films in order to promote viewership among the Filipino moviegoers. SM has dedicated eight theaters in their malls (MOA, North EDSA, Megamall, Fairview, South Mall, Bacoor, Iloilo, Cebu) for FDCP-curated award-winning and independent films. 

Launched this April 2017 the week after Holy Week, the first offerings had the uniting theme of "Salve Pelikula." For the maiden week of April 21-27, they showed Ishmael Bernal's "Himala" and oddly, a foreign film, recent Oscar Best Picture winner Tom McCarthy's "Spotlight."  For the week of April 28-May 4, they showed Ruben Soriquez's "Of Sinners and Saints," and the film I chanced upon today, Mel Chionglo's "Iadya Mo Kami" ("Deliver Us"). 

Fr. Greg was transferred to a remote town called Placido in the Cordilleras after it was learned that he fathered a child with one of his parishioners. There he meets the town's richest couple, Julian and Millette, kingpins who owned everything (and everyone) in town. However, when Fr. Greg's girlfriend Carla located him and brought their infant son over to visit, gossip began to spread all over town. Then a murder happens that throws the town into turmoil, causing secrets to be exposed.

"Iadya Mo Kami" premiered as one of the films in competition at the Filipino New Section of World Premieres Film, which opened on June 29, 2016. This was alongside films like Alvin Yapan's "EDSA" and Rayhan Carlos' "Ringgo: the Dog Shooter." It won three awards, namely Best Production Design, Musical Score, Special Jury Prize to Mel Chionglo for his "contribution to Philippine Cinema." 

First off, I find the MTRCB rating of R-13 questionable. There are several scenes that were definitely in R-16 or even R-18 territory. Are the MTRCB reviewers saying that multiple prolonged scenes of rape and perversion with breast exposure are allowable to be seen by 13 year olds? Disgusting. The mere fact that the central character of a Catholic priest is having an active sexual relationship is in itself enough grounds for at least an R-16 rating.

Allen Dizon has proven to be a good actor, and he does well here despite the limitations of the script. He really came across as a very meek and weak person, quite different from his other films. The rest of the actors are very typecast. You know very well what kind of people Julian and Millette by the mere facial expressions of Ricky Davao and Aiko Melendez alone. Diana Zubiri and Elora EspaƱo in sexy scenes, no surprise there. I thought Eddie Garcia (as the Bishop) and Ina Feleo (as the reporter Zachy) would have significance, but sadly no.

For a script written by Ricky Lee, the main plot of this film was disappointingly simple.  I thought the main murder story line and its complications was good enough, but he was not able to develop it more interestingly. Why did there have to be many details that were unnecessary and confusing? These muddling side plots did nothing more than to just prolong the running time more. The ending looked haphazard and rushed. It was so unsatisfactory that even the presence of Pope Francis could not save it. 4/10.

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