Not Clever

Dude, punch me

Magkaibigan is a film written and directed by Jose Javier Reyes. The inevitable theme of death is protracted within the friendship of two middle-aged men where the other acquired cancer. We cannot underrate the rationale of most people on how repulsed they are towards this film. Probably skipping this film is not entirely missing a phenomenal film. I understand their grounds. They know better the hardships of everyday life.

Seriously, I am not confused with the intentions why this film is made. It is a tribute to Rudy Fernandez. It is such a shameful tribute with all the gimmickry in full might. It is just a scratch from the surface of the lives of the people surrounding a person who had cancer. They have greater advantage since they have a source and most of us are now internet savvy, research is almost trouble-free. But of course actual experience is irreplaceable. I am not entirely anticipating a discussion of the disease as this could be a saunter to the traverse. But on how the scenarios progress and how the characters behave and react, it does not offer something edifying. The scanty story treatment is revealed on how manipulative the film is. It has actuated in every lighting effects, gross prosthetics and even the acting.

Atoy is played by Christopher de Leon, a successful family man who happens to have been diagnosed with pancreas cancer. He is also given three months to live the same prognosis with Joyce in the film 100. But in 100, it is discussed that the cancer could be the advanced type so it has spread to most of the organs. Magkaibigan treated it like some sort of a curable type of pancreatic cancer (they could have crossed-fingers). Despite the mortality rate, together with his chubby friend Ruben (Jinggoy Estrada) they dealt with it like any man could.

I am thinking if that sounds inspiring. Undergo stomach-churning treatments despite how terminal the disease was. They could have patterned it with Rudy’s case which is peri-ampullary cancer although I am not sure if after a year or so of his treatment, the cancer cells spread in other organs. This is one of the films downfalls because accuracy is imperative in any kind of story they are trying to pitch. Especially on this case, this has lots of medical innuendos, facts are undeniably vital in the progression of the story.

The same thing with the characterization which I think in this case is more remorseful than witnessing a death of a loved one. Estrada’s character sounds too childish most of the time; I could have commended Atoy for being patient with him. Most of his outbursts are with his rapport with his equally nagging wife played by Maricel Laxa. But when the time comes to be serious, they sound too cliché with their affection. I certainly believe in de Leon’s portrayal. I also think that the wife of Atoy played by the lovely Dawn Zulueta made a decent portrayal of an anguished spouse caring for her husband.

The passage of dying that film has gotten into is meritorious apart from its other components. There are misleading instances in the script which tackles the subject with less sensibility and maturity. Albeit humor could also help ease the pain, it is not what I am pointing a sore finger at. It is mostly on how they have forgotten to acknowledge first the condition, their own emotions, and their sense of being there for the one they love. Yeah, I certainly understand that this is their first time to encounter such a dreadful event. But isn’t it central to have written it with much more forethought? Better insights could have been mentally synthesized.

Everything that is given to us whether it is of hardship will always be accompanied by opportunities. Magkaibigan could have just tackled it with less effort to make it more insightful. Even the ideas thrown upon us are confusingly to be of a good influence in making ourselves a better and enlightened individual. I have recently watched three films with similar themes on illness and death. And boy, it is mentally exhausting and it is emotionally unbearable. For those who are experiencing this kind of predicament in their life, you might need to watch something else that could help you uplift your well-being. Not unless you are succumbed to a clichéd way of dealing with death.

Charlie Koon's Rating:

Critics Note:
The mental and emotional torture I am talking about is just a paradox. I would personally recommend those three films and it is way better than Magkaibigan. 100 is a film by Chris Martinez about a woman who also has pancreatic cancer. It is like a cake that is sugar-coated with dozens of humor; you will never be bored to death. Motorcycle is the recent work of Jon Red about the relationship of a father who has lung cancer and his son. Motorcycle is poignant film narrated in a non-linear mode, and with a multitude of secrets revealed on its climax. Lastly, Ron Bryant’s recent film entitled Alon. This is a film that knows how to demonstrate unconditional love, a finer way to understand someone who has illness and how we would let go of our emotions being neither overly dramatic nor indubitably pretentious.

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