Sunday is precious. In Taipei's Little Philippines, peopled, as it is with guest workers that put in six-day-weeks, Sunday is priceless. Sunday's little diversions, its simple pleasures, perk up wilting ambition and rejuvenate flagging aspiration. Migrant labor aspiration, fuel, the global economy burns, owes much to Sunday's particular charms. The discovery of an abandoned couch, this particular Sunday, sets this story in motion. Filipino guest workers, Manuel and Dado, hoist the couch and head back to their dormitory in the industrial fringes of the Taipei hinterland. This absurdest road movie is driven forward by the conflict between their irrational hopes and the lurking personal demons of cold, hard rationale. Pinoy Sunday walks rural-third-world protagonists through traffic heavy, fast-paced, modern city streets and freeways; till 'irrational hope' and 'the demons of cold, hard rationale' mutate, and one is soon indistinguishable from the other. Written by
There will be a chord struck with viewers of Pinoy Sunday given that the protagonists are migrant workers, who are of late much debated about (and heatedly too) given the growing numbers in sunny Singapore that leads to competition of jobs and a clash of opposing attitudes. Perhaps a film like this one will serve to bridge the divide of misunderstanding, to remind us that fundamentally we're the same, and in pursuit of similar creature comforts in life. Directed by Malaysian Ho Wi Ding in Taipei, the language used in the film is almost entirely in Tagalog, following the adventures of Manuel (Filipino Idol Epy Quizon) and Dado (Bayani Agbayani).
If you've seen the trailer, you'll probably know the drill already. Two migrant workers in Manuel and Dado find themselves a discarded bright red sofa in the streets of Taipei City, and decide to manually cart the item back to their dormitory so that they can enjoy cool beer while chill/relaxing on it after a hard day's labour. Or at least that is the dream and the goal, but to do so will rely on the duo successfully navigating through the streets in which they do not speak the language, which becomes one zany yet fun filled road trip on foot for miles, being one really crazy objective to begin with that tests the limits of their friendship and perseverance.
This film wouldn't have worked without both actors putting in fine performances as characters of opposites. One's a committed family man yet found in a relationship with another domestic help (Meryll Soriano), while the other has the hots over a singer (Alessandra de Rossi) where the affections isn't mutual, but don't blame the guy for not wanting to try. Between the two, one's a go-getter that isn't afraid to get what he wants, while the other flinching at every opportunity to not go ahead with their joint plan. You get the drift of the contrasts involved, and credit goes to both Epy Quizon and comedian Bayani Agbayani as they share some incredibly charming screen chemistry portraying the bickering pair whose journey reveals the sterner stuff on which their friendship is built upon, not to forget the sofa being the obvious metaphor for the challenges and baggage they have to take on at situations that life throws at them.
Plot narrative remains episodic, but this serves the film well as Ho Wi Ding crafts comedy by the truckloads, as well as poignant, reflective moments that allows one to take stock of the littlest things we take for granted in others. Amongst the lot my favourites were the extended scenes involving a drunk motorcyclist which led the duo to a brush with the cops, which had discrimination rear its ugly head, and the thwarting of a suicide attempt leading to a zealous television crew trying to hunt the protagonists down for an interview, which played up the barrier in language. From time to time you'll see shades of friendship probably mirroring your own with friends, as well as the uglier side should one lapse into being unforgiving toward the strangers in our midst.
Pinoy Sunday runs just under 90 minutes, but packs such a powerful punch that it is a film definitely not to be missed - you'll laugh on one hand, yet having enough room to contemplate its themes, which are appealingly universal and touches upon some raw nerves underneath its veneer of comedy.
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