Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Boses (Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil, Cinemalaya 2008)

Boses was one of two last-minute replacements to the list of Cinemalaya finalists in 2008. It became one of the best films of that batch.

Violinist Ariel Basco is still hurting from the death of a protégé and lover. He holes up in a vacant home adjacent to a shelter for young victims of violence. The children are afraid of him and leave him alone. The only person he talks to is his sister who manages the shelter.

His sister constantly reminds the children to respect the privacy of Ariel. One day, the young boys and girls cross the demarcation line and earn the ire of the practicing violinist. He lashes out at the kids. It is this scary scene that newbie Onyok sees.

Onyok is a mute boy rescued from his abusive father. He becomes the target of a bully in the shelter home. He fights back and injures the bully. He then seeks refuge in Ariel’s home.
                                                           Music is the food of love
                                                             -William Shakespeare-

Ariel notices the young boy’s interest in his violin. While Onyok is hiding in a closet, Ariel enumerates the different parts of the violin. He likens them to the parts of a human body. The different body parts, he says, should always be clean. He gets the surprise of his life when he sees the frail and scarred body of Onyok. It turns out that Onyok’s father had the habit of using the boy’s body as an ashtray every time he gets drunk.

The young boy strikes a chord on the parental side of the violinist. His intense interest in playing violin endears him to Ariel. The two slowly play beautiful music together. They emerge better persons as a result of their friendship.

I loved the idea of a mute and frail boy turning an angry young man into a caring person. Violinists attach a device called mute to the violin in order to mellow down the tone when they practice. In this film, the mute Onyok softens up the choleric music of Ariel. The latter becomes more caring and loving. He surprises his sister by giving her a buss on the cheek.

On the other hand, Ariel helps Onyok to regain his ‘voice.’ The young violin whiz is able to communicate and reach out to other people. His music nurtures the seed of love in the heart of his father.

The two leads were surprisingly good. Julian Duque is a real child prodigy and it is a pleasure to see him play and act well. Coke Bolipata gave a fairly good performance. Indie regulars, Cherry Pie Picache and Ricky Davao, provide ample support to the newbies.


Coke Bolipata : Ariel Basco
Julian Duque : Julian 'Onyok' Alimpio
Ricky Davao : Mr Alimpio
Cherry Pie Picache

*original online posting in 2008

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