Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Kabisera (Arturo San Agustin & Real Florido, Metro Manila Film Festival 2016)

Kabisera could have been a major contender. The Nora Aunor film should have come out a-blazing with rapid fire punches. Alas, it lacks the bite of Oro to truly leave a mark as a strong political commentary. It came out limping and half-hearted in highlighting its message of justice for victims of extra-judicial killings.

Mercy De Dios (Nora Aunor) is an observant wife who is suspicious of her husband’s cash transactions. She thinks something is fishy. The audience, too, has an inkling that the husband is up to no good.

The surprise killing of the husband (Ricky Davao) by armed men comes as a shock because we aren’t sure if the husband is really a criminal. This ambivalence of the film towards the true nature of the husband weakens the flow of the story. It is neither here nor there.

The film seems to point out that it doesn’t matter if the husband is really a criminal or not. The real message is the police have no right to kill a person who surrenders peacefully. However, the message would have been more forceful if the film showed the husband involved in criminal activities.

I wholeheartedly agree with the film’s message. Persons of interest, druggies, and criminals must be given their due process in court. They should not be killed cold-bloodedly. If the killers are protected and allowed to go free, then it wouldn’t take long before they indulge in other dastardly deeds such as kidnap-for-ransom.

With the death of her husband, Mercy goes the legal route in search of justice. The film conclusion takes the safe path.

Kabisera missed the chance to become this generation’s Sister Stella L. I was expecting Mercy to break the fourth wall and address the issue of extra-judicial killings head-on. It would have been brave to hear a wife castigate the administration and the police over their ruthless drive to exterminate druggies and criminals. It would have been great to see her eyes speak volume about the wanton killing of thousands of Filipinos.

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