Cracked Spines

Ageing Beauty

Brillante Mendoza’s Lola suddenly deviates from its two prologuishly structured films. It could be a shift from the omnipresent theory of Armando Lao in Serbis headed for the hybridized rendition of Kinatay. For now, it is Mendoza’s own predilection that pervades Lola. His prevailing love towards irony is quite evident even in his first feature film Masahista. Combining it with hardcore realism and synthetic thrills of the neo-noir genre, we have an incongruent truth that might seep into our own perceptions. Perhaps it is an intensifier, an exotic hors d'oeuvre that amuses the outsider, enough reason to be taken into custody.

The film starts with the camera stalking Aling Sepa (Anita Linda) along the dingy and nebulous streets of Manila. La Mancha has been ill-displaced in the area, known for its terrible gush of winds. Behold, Aling Sepa together with his grandson still attempts to light a candle. But what is it for? Why is she so eager to have it lighted with that kind of blustery weather? It was evident that after such a time of bonding with the old lady (she grows in me, the temporary stalker) that she is lamenting over the death of her other grandchild. Afterward we follow through where the wobbly old Sepa lives. She resides in a second-rate Venice, a surreal dead place that adds up to the unfathomable grief of their condition. It is possibly a metaphor, a slough of murky tears with sympathies that has been drowned and forgotten. And so they continue to live their stagnated lives in the new 'Smokey Mountain'.

Then we are introduced to another old lady named Aling Puring (Dr. Rustica Carpio), the grandmother of the robber who is now behind bars. Her instincts say that she will do everything and anything just to get her puerile grandson Mateo (Ketchup Eusebio) out of prison. An irrevocable love could explain it, keeping the family ties unscathed despite severe offense. A case settlement with the family of Aling Sepa is the only solution she sees and so she will shake heaven and earth just to achieve that.

I wish the actresses have switched roles and it could have been more challenging. It is hard to like Puring, a character that badly needs charisma for us to forgive her unconditional love. But despite the character flaws, we seem to be more concerned with how these two people deal with the reality based on Mendoza’s own perception. It could be the anatomical exploration of Lino Brocka’s core principles - a few might rebel. But the film in its basic essence is still amusing. You might be throwing it with mild accusations of exploitation which is in essence the type that sells on foreign shores. Lola has the qualities of a film that is better discussed by intellectuals than viewed by actual organisms.

Lola exhibits an expansion of what films are made on. It is really hard to believe a single truth as I always believe that we see through a glass darkly. They see and hear but still contradict the single truth offered to them. And in the end, no matter how foolish it becomes, there is still the truth of being a man. We suffer, cry, laugh and love but believing the truth will always be denied.

Charlie Koon's Rating:

1 comment:

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