Trapped in the slums, Insiang finds living with her disapproving, sharp-tongued mother, Tonya, trying. Tonya, having long ago been abandoned by her husband, takes her bitterness out on those around her. In a fit of anger, she finally throws out her husband's relatives who have been living with her, but it's not for the sake of their not bringing in money anymore, which it seems on the surface. She's making way for her boyfriend, Dado, to move in. Dado, the town bully, is young enough to be her son, and this new living situation becomes the talk of the town. It isn't long before he forces himself upon Insiang. Tonya is at first outraged but soon takes Dado's side and blames her daughter for her own rape. Insiang leaves home to seek support and solace from her ardent would-be boyfriend Bebot, but he proves to be another Lothario as well. Forced to return home, Insiang turns this inescapable situation upon itself to exact revenge.Written by
The film underwent an extensive 4K restoration in 2015 from the original camera and sound negatives by The World Cinema Project at the L'Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, with color grading supervised by Pierre Rissient. Assistance was provided by Martin Scorsese's The Film Foundation. See more »
Admit it. You don't want to go to the movies with me. You don't love me anymore.
I love you, Bebot.
If you love me, you will relent.
I love you but I don't like what you do to me in the movie theater.
I'm a man, Insiang. I can't control myself.
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Squalor, grime, and poverty are all palpable in this gritty film from Lino Brocka, which centers around a young woman (Hilda Koronel) who is mentally abused by her mother (Mona Lisa), and physically abused by her mother's lover (Ruel Vernal). It feels as though we're immersed in a slum the entire movie, and none of its scenes ever feel like they're on a set (they may not have been). We feel the utter lack of privacy in the home in this little shanty town, with its squat toilet in the living space, and the daughter forced to see and hear her mother with her lover. In the town we see men behaving badly by getting drunk, groping women, and frittering their time away in the pool hall or gambling. There is a sense of these characters having few options, with high unemployment in the town, and for those who do have menial jobs, having to get by on meager wages. This was contrary to the image the Marcos regime was trying to push of the Philippines, and it's not surprising the film was banned.
Aside from the realistic window the film gives into the poverty of the masses while Imelda Marcos was out buying all those shoes, it's also the queen mother of stories where the rape victim isn't believed - in this case by her own mother. In another sad moment her boyfriend (Rez Cortez) takes advantage of her in a cheap hotel room, all while the audience is thinking, good lord, she needs love and kindness, not sex. Where the film goes from there I won't spoil, except to say it's as satisfying as it is depressing.
Oh, last note. I don't really care if the extended slaughterhouse scene before the credits rolled was meant to set the tone for the cruel world we're about to see, or if it was a metaphor for the Philippines under Marcos - it was brutal and unnecessary to see. As a vegetarian a small part of me likes people confronted with the facts of these cruel places, but to see it in this context and for so long was a very unpleasant surprise, and really turned my stomach. You can certainly skip over all of this if you need to.
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