Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ikaw ang Pag-ibig (2011, Marilou Diaz-Abaya)

I’m disappointed with the film. Maybe the hype about it made me expect a very good film. Rated “A” by the Cinema Evaluation Board and short-listed as a possible PH entry to the Oscars, the technically proficient film is an unfocused mish-mash and lacks heart.

This film is purportedly about Our Lady of Peñafrancia or Ina. It was partly filmed during the tercentenary of the devotion to the Patroness of Bicol. But, it is also about the dysfunctional family of a leukemia patient and the healing of a sinner. A viewer may end up taking just one route depending on his/her interests. In the end, all that I vividly remember is Ina (Feleo), the actress. Her consistent good acting, coupled with a cleavage flashing and baring of lovely legs, are things that make the film interesting once in a while.

Ina Feleo portrays Vangie Cruz, a video editor forced to deal once more with a dark blot from her past. The hospitalization of her brother priest due to leukemia triggers this intense emotion of anxiety in Vangie. Every time the topic of stem cell transplant crops up, she clams up and tries to fend off attempts to make her accede to the treatment.

The aversion of Vangie leads some viewers to suspect bad blood between her and her sibling. Nothing of that sort ever happened. She just can’t get over a painful incident. She endures the repercussion of it just like a Holy Week penitent bearing the weight of a heavy cross on his shoulder.

Ikaw ang Pag-ibig is beautifully photographed yet at the same time cinematically repulsive. The off-putting texture of the film is not that of cinema but of high-definition television. There is a Filipino word that aptly describes the beautiful scenes: nakakaumay. It was a weird viewing experience for me. I was expecting product placements to appear every time picturesque scenes flicker on the widescreen. The artificial lighting seems a better fit for television commercials.

The edgy topic of abortion doesn’t succeed in diluting the artificial pleasantness of the scenes. Vangie’s jittery feelings are much ado about nothing. What is the connection between abortion and stem cell transplant? She has confided her problem back then to her mother so I was wondering what triggered her guilt feelings over the abortion.

The powerful intercession of Our Lady of Peñafrancia is seen in the reunion of the Cruz family. While the family members may have lost most of their wealth, they gained priceless things: unconditional love, peaceful mind, and precious lifeline.

Although disappointed with the film, I’m glad that the film was made. The mere fact that a grateful Marilou Diaz-Abaya finished her prayer-movie despite the pain and travails of being a cancer patient is a testament of God’s love. Here’s hoping and praying she’ll lick the Big C.

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