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On 8 November 2013, the city Tacloban on Leyte Island, Philippines, was largely destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan, causing the death of 6,201 people. The city had previously suffered a similar destruction and loss of life in 1897 and 1912. A few months after the catastrophe, Lav Diaz visited the Island to document the lives of children.Written by
But its Lav. And he could be surprising and unpredictable to a certain extent, with his works. Which could work both ways. Will he wow you? Or will he disappoint you. In this case, it was the latter for me.
I decided to break down my positive and not-so-positive take on the film.
1) Mesmerizing would be an apt word to describe the first few minutes of the film. The way he shot the scenes, you feel like you're taken to the actual place. Staring at the sight of rain falling, or a close-up of the water flowing in the river is just very mesmerizing you'll feel lost while looking at it. Its like you're being hypnotized by the rain and the water and even if that's the only thing you stare at, you still enjoy it.
2)It felt so surreal watching the calm sea and how angry it must have looked like while the eye of the storm was passing.
3) It was a delight to see children singing Frozen's "Let it go" while knowing that hours/days before, they experienced a major catastrophe.
4)There was one scene where the camera was shaking hard, and not just the usual shaky cam we see, it was literally shaking that was probably brought by the wind blowing. It felt so real, not choreographed. This was just as real as it could get.
Not so positive
1)While I know that the film is a documentary, it looked like a literal slide-show silent film. To be honest, if you were doing anything aside from watching the movie, you won't miss much because the scenes were a bit protracted.
2)I don't know where I got my expectations from, but I kinda expected it to be a documentary before, during, and right after the storm. Almost more than 3/4 of the film was devoted to showing scenes of children playing with floodwater, or children swimming on the already-calm sea. There was only a few minutes where actual dialogue and actual interview of the victims and survivors were done.
3)This is NOT for the dialogue-driven. Visual-driven, can be, but the movie will lose you because as I said, the scenes are protracted.
4)There were some scenes where a random out-of-nowhere pop love songs play. In the end part, a trance song randomly also played. E
There were only a few minutes that had actual interviews with the people of Tacloban, the hardest hit city. I wish Lav focused on these first-hand accounts more.
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