Barely made it to watch this movie today as I thought its short theater run had already ended. The previous times I wanted to watch I keep seeing it only screened during the mornings, no screenings at night. So today when I got a small window of time in my lunch hour, I finally lucked on being able to watch this special and ambitious film megged by no less than Chito Rono.
I missed the first scenes when the lead character Amelia (newcomer Franceska Farr) was still in the Philippines. I caught the movie almost 15 minutes into the story when Amelia was already in the mansion of the Mideastern sheik being oriented by the Mayordoma (Dulce) and the rest of the staff. The song was perky and fun, admixed with some Bollywood steps as the Indian household help also joined in.
This would set the tone for most of the film as beautiful tunes with pithy lyrics highlight moments in the lives of Amelia and her co-workers, the ups and downs in the life of an Overseas Filipino Worker. Some are happy, some are bittersweet, and some are sad. I enjoyed listening the duets most of all as they were melodic and harmonious. Dulce's very strong and emotive voice was easily the best of them all, but Farr was definitely able to carry the lead effectively on her own vocal talents.
For the good points, aside from the music and libretto, the epic photography and elaborate art direction were quite remarkable as well. As for the bad points, I think the film went off a bit too far during the war scenes as the unduly graphic images of violence jarringly collided with the general mood, tempo and spirit of the whole project. The absence of a triumphant closing song for Amelia at the end is also disappointing. The funky upbeat song about Filipino yayas over the closing credits did not really work for me.
Overall, I think this is a significant Filipino movie that is certainly worth watching. It was unfortunate that there had not been enough interest in this imaginative movie. The romantically sweet duet of Farr and Sid Lucero could have been released as a radio single prior to the film's opening to generate more audience interest. A bigger box-office star like Sarah Geronimo could have improved audience attendance, but that would have a significantly different impact than what Farr had impressively achieved here.
I will definitely want to buy a video of this when it comes out, or the soundtrack album if they come out with one. I will also want to watch a live version should they decide to bring this to the legitimate stage (which they should!)
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