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Villager Film Review: Lola

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Check out my review of Lola in this week’s Villager. You can click on the link or read the article as it appeared below.

Villager Review of Lola


From “Lola”
Directed by Brillante Mendoza
110 minutes. In Filipino and Tagalog with subtitles
This film was screened on: 4/22, 6:45pm;
4/23, 3:45pm; 4/24, 1:00pm.

Photo courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

LOLA (+)


“All of my films are based on true stories,” said director Brillante Mendoza to an audience after a screening of his latest film — “Lola” — at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Drawn from headlines and news features in Manila, the film tells the story of a grandmother, Sepa (Anita Linda) — who must submit herself to begging neighbors in order to procure funds for her murdered grandson’s burial expenses. Meanwhile, another grandmother, Puring (Rustica Carpino), must endure similar humiliations while trying to raise enough money to pay off court costs her family faces when her grandson is charged with the crime. Mounting expenses place a toll on both seniors. One puts up her ATM card as collateral for a loan, while the other must hock her TV and barter off her personal belongings with passersby.

Material possessions aren’t the only casualties. Both women must make choices that result in them ultimately sacrificing their honesty and pride in pursuit of what they each feel is justice. The majority of the action of takes place during the rainy season. The rain and monsoons serve as additional catalysts — other roadblocks that both matriarchs must struggle to keep their balance.

Mendoza, whose last film (“Kinatay”) won him the best director award at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, shot “Lola” entirely with hand-held cameras. “I have never used tripods on any of my films,” Mendoza admitted.

The style of shooting, coupled with the natural quality of the performances (particularly Linda’s,) gives the film an almost documentary feel. The scenes that show the incarceration of the Puring’s grandson, Mateo’s (Ketchup Eusebio), were shot in a prison — with real prisoners used as extras.
The movie offers a glimpse into the reality of legal system in the Philippines — when Puring’s attorney suggests that the best way for her to insure her grandson’s release is to amicably settle with his family outside of the court (in other words, pay them off to drop the suit).

Mendoza’s movie is visually intriguing, but it is ultimately Linda and Carpino’s performances that give the film its sense of truthfulness. Both actresses balance humor and heartbreak effortlessly in their performances. Lola is the Filipino term for ‘grandmother’ — and the film’s themes of maternal love and devotion translate to a universal audience.


Written by paularosenberg

May 1, 2010 at 12:25 pm

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