Holy Cow

Let's pray. Don't smile at the camera

True enough, Padre de Pamilya is a troubling film (literally) just like what the bishop said about it. On the other hand, it is good to see that the attendance was adequate while I was watching. I suspect that the film format is quite new to their senses (indie spirit). This film is well promoted by the Catholic Church. I guess even Shake Rattle and Roll XXV will be recommended by the church as long as the aswang is shown praying the rosary.

Joselito (Ariel Rivera) is a government employee working in the sanitary division. He gets to approve permits from businesses and factories in the town. His son needs to have a new computer for his studies. His wife Maggie (Jacklyn Jose) is also troubled by the family’s budget and sometimes shoplifts. Joselito is soon bribed by one of the rejected businesses and he gives up all his principles in order to buy his bratty son a computer.

The film tries to maximize the plot’s irony to come up with a seemingly simplistic instrument for the conflict to arise. Joselito is convinced to buy his son a computer package. I would be more practical about it and suggest computer rentals. But there are other desires that tempt him towards a better life. Maggie dreams of a family life that is trouble-free and even hints her husband to be a little more open to the opportunities present in his post in the government. I am still not convinced with how the film sets itself to the flame. Situational films that tackle moral uncertainty must have a better logic for each action that could lead to the aim of the film. Padre de Pamilya appears more of a parody than a valid reproduction of a society’s moral downfall. They could have layered the story with more sincerity and avoided cliché plots and unnecessary compounding dialogues that have no mark for the allegory.

The story also showcases political issues. Tessie Tomas plays the Mayor whose verbal histrionics is given more detailed attention than her chief authority as a public official. I know they wanted to make fun out of it. But the ideas involving this lampoon could have been executed with much more dexterity. The effect is the other way around as it appears that it makes fun of the film. Another minor issue that tries to thicken up a generally sparse political concern is the garbage handling. Dump trucks are not being purchased due to corruption and there is a segment in the film that the media is making an in-depth exposition about it. Instead of conveying solid evidence, the media attempts to sensationalize by hitting the eye through hidden camera pranks and impromptu interviews of the people within the town.

Acting from the likes of Rivera, Jose and Tomas are sufficient. The direction of their acting is barely passing. What can a director do in order to give other layers to these monosyllabic characters? This is important because the film tries to show family relationships, distraught government officials and parenthood. Although the ending is a bit alarming, this is not very typical of a moral film. It is now an advantage that is seen by religious people. The point of the film is for us to learn from this troubled people with the church’s guidance.

I have no qualms in films that either preach or represent morality for the betterment of the society. But I prefer well made stories and Padre de Pamilya lacks what the definition of well-made is. The structure of the story could collapse at anytime. The contrivance is okay as long as the logic of the situations they wanted to show could be possible. Films are as powerful as the church. We have to use it at its full advantage and not waste energy in making a film that is scruffily written and yet expects the audience to be completely transformed.

Charlie Koon's Rating:

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