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Jose Javier Reyes,
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Kimberly Evers Aboy
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The film takes us to the story of two strangers (Jericho and Mae) whose lives crossed during their most vulnerable episodes in their lives - Mae's vulnerability is coming from the 'I am in a lonely place' (figuratively). Jericho's is coming from "I am young, wanted to rebel (unconsciously) and I want to explore.'
The story is not just about Jericho and Mae devouring into the temptations. The story is also about how the people that surrounds them became strangers to the inner ambition and desires of the characters.
Mae and Phil as a married couple are 'strangers' with one another. Jericho's parents and girlfriend knew Jekjek and not Jericho. They are strangers to the true personality of Jericho. The young priest is a stranger to Mae's story of adultery.
In the beginning of the movie, I thought the intention is to get us fascinated, as viewers, with the beauty of Portugal but fortunately, it did not. Instead, we learn about Jericho's ambition - him, volunteering to be the tour guide to Mae represented his wanting to travel and explore. This characterization is, later on, get solidified when he excelled as a tour guide for the local tourists in San Fernando.
Mae's 'been there' responses to Jericho when he proposed to go to different places, represents her experiences in life. She has been through life and she already know what could possibly happen. When they succumbed into the temptation, she foreshadowed 'pagbabayaran natin ito'.
It is no strange that two Filipinos meet in foreign land but what is is strange is, they meet each other again is some strange place - a local museum. Again, they consummate the temptation in a strange place - inside the car.
Mae is exposed to many situations that is strange to her, that she did not really enjoy - accompanying Phil (her husband) to business gatherings.
Jericho learns about Mae's medical condition that he knows nothing about. I thought giving Mae's a medical condition was the writer's attempt to direct us (as viewers) in guessing that maybe Mae will die in the movie - a formula used in many films and tv series.
Both of them enjoying, dancing and kissing in a cheap local bar -- seeing how rural folks find the situations as strange.
WHAT I DID NOT SEE (deleted due to censorship in middle east)
There are few scenes that I was wanting to see but I did not.
I wanted to see how the the transitioning of the relationship of Mae and Jericho through the love scenes, on how it involved to from lust, love and passion.
I would want see interwoven alternating scenes of violence and passionate love during the physical attack to Jericho. This will weave the foreshadowing of Mae's dialogue to Jericho 'pagbabayaran natin ito' in the beginning of the film.
Did the director really not include the 'robbery' scene? (Was it censored here?) Or it was deliberate not to show this as a scene so that we get a 'shock' when his fate is told.
There are three particular scenes when the director used 'shaky camera movements' - during a business gathering; at the hotel corridor and when they were in old boarding house of Mae. I am not sure about the intention of the director here, but I though it helped in building the tension.
I very much like the different camera angles used while Mae was in the confession box. I also liked the tight shot when both were in the bed.
There are very few shots that I did not know why they were cropped as such.
Given that both Anne and Marco are already good looking, I like that there wasn't any attempt to enhance further their beauty through make-up. It is the good camera shots of them that enhanced their natural look.
I give my admiration to Ann, she was effective in giving life to the character of Mae. She has become the character. Her very emotional breakdown and two monologues where not overacted. I give props to Marco, being a neophyte in the industry, he was able to give justice to his role. Although, I was wanting him to give a bit more in his own breakdown scene, when his character knelt to Anne's character.
When the alternate ending was presented first, I was able to guess the intention of the director because prior to that was another sort of a 'dream sequence.' Also, the there is a disconnect in the reaction shots of those were witnessing Mae's monologue. Their facial reactions did not conform to the lines that Mae was saying.
The key to the success of the movie is on the writing and screenplay. There was not any attempt to explore on many sub-plots that complicate and confuse the story. The story is told, as is, where is. There was no attempt to take the moral high ground nor encourage what was happening with the characters.
We are there not to judge people who are in the same circumstances, we may know their stories and we may have our opinions, but our own judgment and opinion about them does not matter. We do not know their real stories. After all, we too are just strangers.
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