Death is in our Midst

Real-time look

Pepe Diokno, the director of Engkwentro, has method in his madness. He definitely commits to a vision that most artist won’t even dare to touch. I admire the efforts that were put into this film not just for its bravery or its technical style (which I may say is not entirely original) but for the simple reason that the film has something to say. He is not just babbling a condition of a city that was ruled by Vanity. If I was not aware that I am in the studio theatre, I would think that I was deployed to hell. The guts and rawness of the film certainly worked for this one. Engkwentro might not be for all but its material is so interesting; the film could really pull a rabbit out of a hat.

Let’s be more scholastic this time and start with the technique they used in the film. The film has borrowed the theory of real time. In this film, it happens in a day with almost only four or even five super long takes. The technique is ideal due to the nature of the scenes. It involves a chase between the death squad and the protagonist of the film. The technique itself is not new to me but the usage is quite effective like Jeffrey Jeturian’s Kubrador and even Adolfo Alix’ Adela. In foreign filmmakers, Gus Van Sant’s Elephant also has the same approach of long takes. It also have the roughness and grittiness of Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible. It is pretty much a style trend nowadays and there are other films of the same ilk but do not take into consideration the logic of its usage.

The film is about two brothers who are stuck in a city where death happens everyday. Richard (Felix Roco) is being chased by the death squad. While Raymond,(Daniel Medrana) his younger brother, joins the Batang Dilim gang which is a rival gang of his elder brother. Richard decides to run away with his girlfriend Jenny Jane (Eda Nolan) but was thwarted by Tomas, (Zyrus Desamparado) the leader of Batang Dilim gang. After a while, it was revealed that Raymond’s final task is to kill Richard in order for him to be an official member of the gang.

Since the shots of the film mostly linger on the slums of Davao, the film has a radio voiceover of the city Mayor Danilo Suarez. He announces himself as the catalyst of change. He enunciates his great works with the cities cleanliness, peace and prosperity while we see the endless squalors right in front of our eyes. We follow the protagonist while hearing a simple voiceover.

Pride could be the best theme I could give for the film (I excuse myself from ‘politics’ ha-ha). This goes to all the characters. The gang members think highly of themselves and their strengths; think they could get away with anything. It is also the same with the death executioners. I wonder why the city Mayor defends himself from accusations he gets from the volunteers of Human Rights. Well, he promotes peace and prosperity; he could have stopped the killing spree of young juveniles, particularly street children and junkies. Not unless he could not control his own compulsions. Anyhow, the bravery towards ones principles could only be measured by the extremity of their acts. Cowardice is the effect of their vanity and their mouth-watering principles only delights their own bellies.

Engkwentro enlightens the ‘poor me’ ideology in my system. I know the atrocities we have in life but I never realized that there are people who could make Earth a living Hell. The fact that this was made into a film gives reason to its importance. Our life here on Earth could not be taken away by limp-minded people. Engkwentro is a film that most people should see - if they are daring enough to have a glimpse of Hell.
Charlie Koon's Rating:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

wow!! it just won the top prize in the orrizonti cat! did you predict this?

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