Ammonia Fever

Fainting Drag Queen

This is a crazy film. I know that anyone who happens to see this film will unquestionably admire its outrageous rendition of a family mourning for the departure of the head of the family. I suppose everyone has been in a funeral. And if you happen to be a spectator, you will laugh your heart out most especially for the spectacular gestures of grief, fainting galore, outlandish cries for exculpation and even the climactic confrontations of ancient resentment towards your rival sibling. Ded na si Lolo delivers a meritorious dark comedy directed and written by Soxie Topacio. I am certain that this kind of film is what filmgoers in our country crave the most.

In simpler terms, Ded na si Lolo tackles death. It is actually a taboo in this country full of apprehensions towards the topic. Topacio takes this to heart, does not mind the implications and made a film that is very observational to the rituals and traditions of a Philippine funeral. I agree that this film did acquire a representation that is close to the truth. And the truth is it is a one of a kind hilarious occurrence to a superstitious-strict and grossly sentimental nation.

We might wonder upon this hysterical visual rendering of mourning people. And we could not blame their fascination to television melodrama. Trash TV could have induced this trend in families but hey, there are real emotions infused into this role-play. Ded na si Lolo is narrated through the eyes of a child named Bobet (BJ Forbes). And he narrated it understatedly but the subtlety will do a disservice to his over-the-top aunts and uncles. His mother Charing (Manilyn Reynes) is the usual nagger with an overwhelming reaction upon hearing the death of her father Juanito. This is the same with the rest of the clan having different spotlights for their overdramatic monologues.

It is hard to describe the design of comedy in this film. Although in semi-scholarly remarks, it has satiric social flavor with ultimate whips of absurd humor relegating to death. The vibrant factor with how this comedy works is by the demand to conform to ‘superstitious’ hearsays and hullabaloos. Parody is also present like when Bobet placed a pink baby bird in the coffer of his grandfather, not knowing it is intended for murdered victims crying for justice. The film is overwhelming in a good way though for their crazy antics towards our own beliefs. It could also be a summation of natural dead-pan social beings inclining it to serious comedy relief in actuality. Remorseless guilty-pleasure for heavy dramas is also installed with of course a surprising twists prior to the resolution. Mameng (Gina Alajar) still has an injured relationship with her older sister Dolores (Elizabeth Oropesa) over who is the favored daughter. It depicts sibling rivalry but has pinches of affection conveyed in a stubborn manner. To heal the wound of these two unyielding souls, the eldest brother Isidro (Dick Israel), unwraps a top secret to further the goal of this feel-good tale.

Topacio is known to be a flamboyant gay director hence the audience could not escape being weathered by homosexual psyches. Joonee (Roderick Paulate) is also the son of Juanito who is a female impersonator with discerning views on this particular family affair. He gets to oppose the superstitions being followed and gives insights to Bobet not without the hyperventilation of the folks. And if you are a bit homophobic, grab hold of your seats with a few more campy effeminate characters that are a bit annoying. Their existence in the story makes a clear gesture for social acceptance, you would rather vomit. It might be true that respect should be earned than plead.

Ded na si Lolo is a commendable comedy film but not for the one who is likely to die for practical reasons. This film is not made to be a masterpiece but Topacio have mastered the art of delivering good humor and such is relegated to this film. If there is a wider release for this, I am certain that it will be a terrific hit. Just remember, nobody gets out alive, so loosen up and get more acquainted with your good side. We are not sure when our right time is up. Ded na si Lolo paints a portrait of a society that is dead serious on all matters and to an extent, does not show the appropriate affection and has many inhibitions. In effect, they get to faint, cry, go crazy at the time of mourning. It’s funny and it’s the truth. We should be more of the opposite, particularly of their lives and behaviors as peace could be in our midst especially when the time ticks out.

Charlie Koon's Rating:

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