Sunday, August 3, 2014

Hustisya - Cinemalaya Director's Showcase

Director: Joel Lamangan
With: Nora Aunor, Rocco Nacino, Rosanna Roces, Sunshine Dizon, Gardo Versoza, Chynna Ortaleza

I haven't watched a Nora Aunor film since forever so the moment I saw that she will star in a Cinemalaya film Hustisya, I told myself to prioritize it. Then I saw its poster and it's one of the coolest poster I've seen. It made me even more excited. Lucky for me, Hustisya was scheduled first in Greenbelt 3 - my resident Cinemalaya movie house. Unfortunately, the hype I made for myself didn't pay off as the film discouraged me to continue watching the rest. But I've already paid my tickets for the day so I got no choice.

Joel Lamangan's Hustisya is so disappointing. It started off good - focusing on human trafficking and Biring's (Nora Aunor) adventure in the crime filled city of Manila. Add up her interesting friendship with Vivian (Rosanna Roces) who serves as her boss in illegal recruitment, and a bad influence according to Biring's daughter Lorena (Sunshine Dizon). But then after everything was established, the film overwhelmed with themes and crimes that confused its audience to no end. It's even suffused with surrealism in which Biring throws money and letters of wishes from the balcony of Manila City Hall to appease herself with the immorality she's committing that seemed to visit her dreams as nightmares. Since then, it lost its audience as the film started becoming really absurd. My friend was right when he said that the film would be more successful and acceptable if it was advertised as dark comedy instead of crime drama as the funny scenes of Ate Guy got more reaction than the supposed-to-be compelling ones. Don't get me started with the technicalities because it reminds me of The Diplomat Hotel where it seemed like the filmmakers got lazy in the middle of making the film that it lost its touch and sense. So much potential was wasted especially its aspect of realism. Those dreams could have worked wonderfully only if the film had any focus and didn't try to tackle other issues such as imperialism, corruption, etc. It's a neverending story. 

Nora Aunor as Biring / Cinemalaya
Even though it's written by the screenplay legend Ricky Lee, it didn't thrive on its screenplay. Its biggest achievement is Nora Aunor's superb acting. Hustisya reminded me of why this woman is a Superstar and why she deserves to be a National Artist. She's just naturally good whether she delivers punchlines or trigger the dramatics. It's also not devoid of lessons and thought provoking scenes. Thought provoking that sometimes it just made you wonder what the hell is going on. Lamangan was not able to articulate the film well with the message it wanted to convey because he pestered it with overwhelming amount of themes and arcs that made you want to just end the film. I felt like the film should have ended 10 scenes ago but it kept on continuing and it just made the film worse.

In the end, it settled with Biring laughing endlessly and in my mind, she's probably laughing because of how ridiculous the whole film is and that the audience sit through with it. I laughed with her.