Saturday, November 26, 2011

Anatomiya ng Korupsiyon (2011, Dennis Marasigan)

Anatomiya ng Korupsiyon is notable for its incorruptible character, Attorney Cely Martinez. The film starts with a Bing Lao-styled establishing shot of the main character’s house and inner disposition. We see lots of diplomas plastered on a wall of this derelict house. The beauteous young lady prepares breakfast on what is her first day of work. Her mother is disappointed to learn that she will work for the government. The elder mutters that she’ll end up just like her father, who was not rich enough to make his family live the sweet life. The smiling young girl says nothing and eats heartily her simple breakfast of pandesal. However, the smile, somewhat awkward and mocking, seems not to be what the director ordered. Maricar Reyes as Cely Martinez started on the wrong foot but showed brilliance in most latter scenes.

Reyes gets into the groove of things as she portrays a dedicated, maverick hearing officer. Martinez’s diligence and promptness in dealing with her cases cause annoyance amongst her colleagues and co-workers. Fellow lawyers prefer a delay in their cases because more hearing appearances translate into more fees. Stenographers and regular clerks also benefit from prolonged cases. Her colleagues subtly, and later on directly, show her illicit ways of earning quick bucks.

Attorney Martinez remains steadfast in shunning grease money. Even when hospital and medical care bills start to pile up, she manages to elude the menacing tentacles of a corrupt government office. She even makes a hasty exit from a Christmas party because she cannot fathom to mingle with corrupt people. As she ambles out, we notice her sweet smile, a smile that could only emanate from a pure heart. It is a smile that seems to say “Dad, I’ve kept your name clean.” The movie should have ended with that smile but it goes on for a few more minutes.

A fine blend of Dennis Marasigan’s reliable deft direction and Bing Lao’s creative inputs, Anatomiya ng Korupsiyon is an almost solid Cinema One Originals entry. I adored it so much right up to Cely Martinez’s victory walk. But when she steps into the elevator and darkness engulfs her, the film goes down a few notches for me.

The movie has made a strong case against corruption so I was bewildered with the elevator scene and subsequently, the Jun Lozada footage. Cely Martinez is no ordinary office employee that cannot afford to lose her job. She can easily get another job. Her father’s legacy seems to be her bedrock of courage. She is not supposed to be helpless against the dark forces.

Meanwhile, the Jun Lozada footage shows the whistleblower at a 2008 Senate hearing narrating how his boss Romulo Neri instructed him to ‘moderate their greed.’ As it is, the footage is not clear enough on what message it wants to impart. Yes, it does suggest that not much has changed since the Marcos years. But is it a call to accept moderate corruption or is it a call for more courageous whistleblowers to come forward to eradicate wrongdoing in government? If it is the latter, then help and hope is indeed on the way for those people doing the right thing in public offices.

The last two or three minutes of this film will likely elicit conflicting extreme reactions from moviegoers. I didn’t like the elevator scene and the Jun Lozada footage but the scenes that came before them and the character Cely Martinez are good enough to make me rate the film highly among the Cinema One Originals entries.

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