Salome - Laurice Guillen I finally saw Laurice Guillen's hailed film Salome and I must say that I'm pretty impressed with it. Salome is about the titular barrio girl (played with much versatility by a young Gina Alajar) who is married to a domineering man named Macario (Johnny Delgado). The film starts quite wonderfully with a pleasant montage of an early morning in a rural town, with roosters crowing, the bright sun glaring, and the waves steadily blanketing the glistening beach. Then comes Salome, dressed in white stained with red blood, running and screeching for help, finally saying that he has killed a man. The man (Dennis Roldan) is a mining engineer from Manila who finds himself drawn to Salome. Guillen and her screenwriter Ricardo Lee basically unravels Salome's story through a series of flashbacks of the man's murder. Some have claimed that Salome is a Filipino version of Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon and they are probably right as Guillen and Lee follows the same style. Yet while Kurosawa was interested in the multi-faceted aspect of truth, Guillen is more interested in the powerplay of the genders. Guillen's films have been described as feminist in spirit and Salome, while still having the typical Filipino plot movements that mostly involve showing females at their weakest (rape scenes or wife-beating scenes), it presents the central female character as a chameleon of sorts, ready to use, to attack, to even distort the truth, to maintain that de facto seat of power men consciously and mistakenly refer to as a weakness. Yet if such is a weakness, then why do men swoon and go insane with lust like the man from Manila who ends his life during that erstwhile affair. If such is a weakness, then why do men give everything and still beg and plea for repentance as the character of Macario does when societal justice fails to repair the wounds of an already scarred marriage. Salome is not interested with truth, as we can see the courts has settled that for us yet the film does not end where the court has determined Salome's criminal liability. The film is more of an examination of a woman's power to drive men crazy and down to their knees with just a tinge of innocence coupled with the attractive curves of their bodies. The same power that drove the residents of that seaside barrio away from the beach where the mythical mermaids dwell yet incessantly lures the village idiot back to wait for nothing but sure death. ****1/2/*****
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