Padre de Pamilya

Padre de Pamilya (Click on the title for my review) is a film directed by Cesar Buendia starring Ariel Rivera, Jacklyn Jose and Tessie Tomas. It is also being endorsed by Bishop Socrates Villegas.

Padre de Pamilya will be screened in SM Theaters starting April 29, 2009. For every ticket you will buy, part of it will be used in the fund raising to buy five million Bibles.

Padre de Pamilya Official Website

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Preaching To The Choir
by Philbert Ortiz Dy
posted on Wednesday April 29, 2009
Preaching To The Choir The promotional materials for Padre de Pamilya feature a quote from the chairman of the CBCP, Bishop Soc Villegas. “I am very sure that this troubling film will make our country a better country and our citizens, better citizens.” It’s a tall order for any film to have such a transformative effect on any society, and with all respect to the bishop, Padre de Pamilya isn’t up to that task either. Tone deaf and blunt as a hammer, Padre de Pamilya lacks the sophistication to really make its commentary count.

Joselito Mirasol (Ariel Rivera) is an employee of the municipality of San Felipe, an office racked with scandal as the town’s mayor is being investigated for corruption. He makes a meager salary, and is struggling to support his family. His son, who’s taking a computer course, needs a new computer. His wife is having trouble keeping to their budget. And other family members look to help them with all their problems. Despite this, Joselito is an honest man, and has never taken a bribe, but backed into a corner by his situation, he’s made to choose between his principles and providing for his family.

Social commentary is always a tough road to take for any movie. It’s never enough to just preach, because the problems of society are easy enough to see, and there’s little to be accomplished by sitting on a pedestal telling people that they ought to be good. This is where Padre de Pamilya falters, portraying a situation that’s about as sophisticated as a Jack Chick tract, only lacking images of the sinful characters burning in hell for all the wrong they’ve done. For all the film’s pretensions about being true to life and reflection what’s going on in Philippine society, it never feels realistic, with its flat characters and contrived situations.

It could’ve used a lot more subtlety. Is there really much to be gained from showing a ridiculous mayor who can’t speak English properly? What kind of scathing commentary is achieved through the portrayal of a flamboyantly gay man as her aide? It’s all pretty cheap work, feeling more like personal catharsis than anything that the people are supposed to learn from. Juxtapositions with religious imagery bring the message home, as if the moral dimension of the movie wasn’t obvious enough.

The cast misses pretty wide as well. Ariel Rivera is a compelling presence on screen, but he isn’t really able to show his character’s internal conflict in any convincing way. He doesn’t build to his character’s tough choices, which makes it difficult to sympathize with him. Jaclyn Jose isn’t given much to do, picking one note and sticking with it the whole time. Cedric Jose needs to tone it down a lot. Tessie Tomas plays her character as a caricature, and as such, she’s somewhat entertaining, but ends offering nothing that means anything.

Padre de Pamilya just goes about it the wrong way. Preaching is meant for the pulpit, and for all the good intentions behind the movie and all the valid thoughts and ideas that it wants to get across, it just isn’t a very good movie. It’s all bluster and message, forgetting what can make cinema such an effective medium: its ability to draw us in through a strong narrative and characters that we want to root for. Morality plays just never work in cinema, and this one is no exception.

My Rating: Preaching To The Choir

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