Friday, August 19, 2011

Boundary (2011, Benito Bautista)

Getting a cab during Christmas season is an extremely stressful experience for commuters. Not so with the well-dressed Emmanuel Lazaro (Raymond Bagatsing). With a first name like that, he surely must have the angels on his side as he easily gets a taxi by default. He gets to ride in a brightly lit taxi driven by Limuel Alcantara (Ronnie Lazaro).

Boundary takes us for a trip inside Limuel’s confused mind. We first see him, disheveled hair and all, wandering along the Marikina riverbanks. He seems to be on a limited budget as he opts for a cheap snack. His brief chat with the vendor unnerves him. Ikaw ang mag-ingat. Those words linger as he walks away while glancing back several times.

Limuel is not unlike those contemplative Lav Diaz characters, Heremias and Serafin Geronimo. He has a dark past that he cannot leave behind. A place or a person will unexpectedly trigger their paranoia or melancholia. The nod to Lav Diaz is also seen in the use of Diaz’s frequent film location, Marikina riverbanks.

Emmanuel engages the unfocused and jumpy Limuel in a chit-chat. We learn that Limuel takes the road 24 hours every other day. His boundary is a high PHP 1500 but he is grateful that he no longer has to shoulder other miscellaneous vehicle expenses. He endears himself to Emmanuel when he showed photographs of his family.

Amused by the Christmas lights inside the taxi, Emmanuel orders Limuel to stop over at a Christmas lantern shop. He buys a capiz lantern and surprises the driver by giving it as a gift. The joy of Limuel is, however, short-lived. Constant calls from someone make him jittery once again.

Ronnie Lazaro
Limuel, it turns out, is a former member of a bank robbery gang. During the group’s last heist, he gets cold feet and leaves his comrades. They are now asking him to pay a certain amount. Limuel has no savings so he accedes to his comrades’ plan to rob off rich passengers.

The robbers Diego Gawaran, Limuel, and a cohort divest Emmanuel of his items.  They forgot to take his cellphone, which he uses to start springing his own surprise.

The rapport between Emmanuel and Limuel was well handled by the director. The latter cheated somewhat by having Emmanuel ride at the immediate back of Limuel. He did it probably in order to capture the two in single shots. He also admitted to putting Christmas lights inside the taxi to camouflage extra interior lights.

The taxi journey (and direction) was smooth sailing until the bonfire scene. With the robbers onboard, the suspense should have reach fever pitch. But, poor dialogue (i.e. mostly cussing by Diego) and clunky direction (e.g. poorly executed fumbling scene by the robbers) rob the film of much-needed tension. The taxi ride here is a mere kiddie bike ride compared to the suspense-filled van ride in Kinatay.

Limuel, given a new lease on life by Emmanuel Lazaro (Lazarus?), is able to leave his dark past but gets embroiled in a darker, more sinister situation. He no longer drives a taxi. He becomes, guess what, the driver of a van filled with corrupt policemen. And so, the journey to perdition continues...

Related link/s:
Thoughts by director Benito Bautista (

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