When I watched the trailer of Tuhog ("to impale"), directed by Veronica Velasco, it held promise that it was not going to be another typical B-movie. (I told my mom that I wanted to watch this movie and when I told her the title she was like "bastos pala yan e." *facepalm*)
For one, it's not another teeny-bopper film with a predictable ending. Two, it's about three people who have nothing in the common except for the fateful accident that will end up killing one of them (not the most original plot but is always workable), and a cast of heavyweight talent like Eugene Domingo and Leo Martinez.
I'm too lazy to type out the entire synopsis so here's a link to a movie review: Tuhog. I shall go straight to my comments:
Let's start with the elements in the film that cock-blocked the movie's promise:
***That beggar-child-slash-angel of death who apparently is essential for the movie to come full circle at the ending...I want to strangle him. His character was fine, being a sort of link for the three main characters as he encounters them while begging and the reason why the said characters were in the accident in the first place. It should've ended there. But no. Suddenly comes his voice-over, talking about how we should live our lives to the fullest since death is inevitable blah blah blah yada yada. The whole shebang just threw me off. Wait, it threw off the movie. Not only was it preachy, it was unnecessary.
Veronica Velasco, the audience isn't that dense. The resolution would've ended beautifully without you dictating what the lesson of the film is. The conflicts the characters have to face themselves is tragic and relatable enough. We know that death is the only thing that's certain.
And the kid's appearance on Fiesta's (Domingo) grave as an angel was just plain clumsy. Again, this movie could've stood alone with the mystery of the beggar's role in the movie. Was he really an angel of death? Was it all a koinkidink?
No, they had to go and be all, "hey look guys he's an angel! See what we did there?! Huh? Huh?"
I've read published reviews of Tuhog online (the ones with spoilers and the ones without) and none of them seems to want to acknowledge the clutzy resolution or even mention the death-brandishing brat.
***The romance between Fiesta (Domingo) and Nato (Jake Cuenca), I feel, was not entirely fleshed out. I'm probably just nitpicking here at this point but compared to the other back stories of the other characters, Fiesta-Nato's transition from colleagues to lovers was a bit erratic.
***Is it me or is Tonio's children and son-in-law were quite one-dimensional in the film. They were just really annoying.
Finally let's get to the good stuff: what I loved about the movie.
***Eugene friggin' Domingo's performance throughout the movie. It's amazing Jake Cuenca didn't let himself be overshadowed.
Now if only I could get the image of Cuenca being an underwear model during the movie because we all know there's not a bus driver in Manila who's as chiseled as he is.
|Image from yahoo.com.ph|
****For the Enchong Dee fans: props to him taking on his role as a hormone-raging teenager wholeheartedly. Which includes him doing unspeakable things to himself (or at least acting like it is what he's doing) and making his onscreen romance with Empress non-cliche'. The right amount of sappiness without making me hurl. I personally think you're largely the reason for the PG-13 rating but not a lot of teeny-boppers can pull that off.
|Image from philstar.com|
*** Leo Martinez role as a retired family patriarch. He makes you root for him without begging for sympathy in his acting or putting too much strain in himself. He doesn't use punchlines to be likable. He just is in his own struggle to put up his little panaderia despite his family's criticism. Four for you, Leo.
*** Surprisingly, there are mood whiplashes in the film- which is a first for me unless I'm watching a film in Cinemalaya.
*** A movie with comedic timing that's actually clever. And the director uses foreshadowing with subtlety.
|Image from the film's official Facebook page.|
***The accident. I mean, they actually invested in visual effects for it. Beautiful and cruel.
I would recommend this movie but only because to show that there are actual attempts to get quality films back in the local mainstream industry. It's not great, but it's good for a start (just don't watch the ending with the beggar-kid, I guess).
After watching the movie, I was reminded of an episode in Grey's Anatomy's second season wherein a train accident skewers two strangers, Tuhog-style. And I cried like a baby for the latter half of the episode. Here's a clip: