Sunday, August 28, 2011

Naglalayag (2004, Maryo de los Reyes)

7 long years… 

It’s been quite a journey for multi-awarded actress Nora Aunor since she left the Philippines in 2004. She hurdled a run-in with the law in Los Angeles, California, and also endured a botched cosmetic surgery in Japan. Now, she’s back and ready to gift her fans with movie and television projects.

Naglalayag (Silent Passage), her last film shot entirely in the Philippines, was a memorable farewell present to fans in 2004. The film starts with a Regional Trial Court judge named Dorinda Vda. De Roces (Nora Aunor) forced to take a cab on a stormy night. The taxi eventually gets stranded on a flooded street. She ends up spending the night at the home of the kind-hearted driver.

This film, about a May-December love affair, sparkles because of superb acting by Nora Aunor and Yul Servo. Aunor portrayed a judge who recently presided over a well publicized criminal case trial. Her character Dorinda is a 50-year old widow with a twenty-something-year-old son.

Floods pose a problem for public utility vehicle drivers, more so with guys named Noah. Yul Servo played Noah Garcia, a courteous and charming taxi driver who keeps a rosary in his pocket and shares stories from the Bible. Stranded with a non-operational taxi, the 23-year old novice driver Noah offers shelter to his passenger.

The few hours of interaction between the two will eventually blossom into friendship and full romance. Dorinda gets struck with the kindness and religiosity of the young man. She feels safe and comfortable in the company of Noah. Meanwhile, Noah admires the coolness of Dorinda. He cannot believe that a rich and intelligent woman like her will gamely spend the night inside their humble abode. Noah’s hunger for knowledge also brings him closer to Dorinda.

Everything’s going fine with the couple except for a few things. Noah’s mother, Lorena Garcia, prefers Rica to be the girlfriend of his son. Rica, a young and voluptuous neighbor, happens to be the owner of a sari-sari store. On the other hand, Dorinda isn’t sure if her son Dennis will accept her young lover. It also takes her a long time to tell her mother-in-law about her new love affair. Then, there are the gossips. The couple becomes fodder for rumors. The young man is portrayed as a gold digger while the judge is portrayed as a cradle snatcher.

In the end, love did reign despite the obstacles. The duo didn't mind the rumors. They followed their hearts. The film suggests that true love knows no boundaries, social groups, and age gaps.

Aunor’s beautiful, restraint performance in the film is just a glimpse of her acting skills. Her hearty chuckles can surely disarm any young man. I’m hoping someone can come up with a fine script that can show the full artistry of Aunor.

Award-winning actress Aleck Bovick gave a wonderful performance as Noah's girlfriend. Her chat with Aunor at the end of the film is a well-directed scene.

However, there are a couple of directing booboos. The plaque held by Dorinda had the name of Maryo de los Reyes inscribed on it. It was easy to see this mistake on a big theater screen. The second mistake showed the air blower used in the rainy scene outside the courthouse.

The film highlights the importance of kindness. If you liked de los Reyes' Magnifico, then you may also warm up to this romantic drama, an apt film to watch during rainy monsoon nights.

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