director ato bautista
mara lopez & mon confiado in “palitan”.
alex and mara: best actor & best actress
It’s only a very small film, an “indie” (independent) film… With a very small production budget, tight setting and a simple cast. And yet, “Palitan”, one of the digital film entries at Cinema One Originals Digital Film Festival this year, ranked as the best movie that this blogger saw and watched in the year 2012.
The movie started with a ‘definition’, showing the male lead character – portrayed so convincingly by Alex Medina- in a series of sexual pleasures and ‘one-night-stands’ that greatly defined his weakness and being a drifter in a harsh reality of his existence. A young man whose innocence was interrupted by an early marriage and forced labor (as he worked in an electronics shop that he didn’t seem to enjoy).
His equally young wife, portrayed so subtly and graciously by Mara Lopez, was a mystery. She wanted a happy marriage life but failed to assert her individuality and ‘value’ to her husband. Deep inside her, she was wanting a greater “satisfaction” out of life.
The wife was the object of desire to the husband’s boss- so sensitively portrayed by Mon Confiado. He was the “Peeping Tom”, as he demanded Alex to videotape his wife while taking a bath as a payment to all his financial debts. But it went too far, and soon, the boss and the young wife got trapped in the web of an illicit sexual affair.
The story plot was simple but so deep. The dialogues were brief, but so vast. It was a great screenplay.
The director of the film was Ato Bautista, and he surely did a great tribute to the “Scorpio Nights” classic film of director Peque Gallaga wherein the movie was somehow inspired.
Director Bautista’s vision of the Cinema was unique, compact and suspenseful with his style of “unpredictability”.
He used Close-Up shots, compressed settings and locations, and a smooth flow of editing to convey his kind of ART. You would feel that you were really there on that tight space and setting (in this film, the setting was in Raon St., Quiapo, Manila), and intimately, you’d feel you were almost touching the skin of the characters in his film. Almost so real… So intimate, indeed.
Kudos also to the Cinematographer of this film- Mr. Rain Yamson, for applying “squeezed shots” and minimal lightings in his ‘camera eye’, because those techniques were both so effective and brilliant.
There was something, too, in lead actor Alex Medina’s eyes in this movie. As he delivered his words in the film, his eyes would speak something more. His voice trembled in a few scenes, but they were so effective in conveying a certain emotion. Alex was so penetrating in this film. No wonder, he won the Best Actor award at the Cinema One Fest Awards for this movie.
Mara Lopez exuded so much sexiness and bareness in this movie, but you won’t feel any “dirty kind of art”. Her sex scenes with both Alex and Mon were done and choreographed in diversity- with Alex, it’s like a “robot sex” and with Mon, a “passionate kind of making love”. But both were directed with taste and a delicate touch of a creative mind that certainly pleased the viewers.
Mara acted so simply, delivered her lines so naturally and exuded a great aura of subdued performance. She, too, rightfully deserved the Best Actress award for Cinema One via this film.
But the one who provided a tremendous support for this movie was Mon Confiado. His style of acting here was full of essence and magnitude. His ruggedness- OVERWHELMING.
Mon was like a wet towel (in this film) and you could squeeze so much juicy talent and greatness in him as an actor. This was one of his greatest performances on screen.
Now, you ask again, why did “Palitan” became the best film for this blogger in the year 2012?
My answer: I hadn’t seen a movie that’s so real, so powerful and so imaginative as this. Even the ending shocked me. It’s the most original vision of a movie that I had ever seen.
Try to catch this film on DVD’s or any future screenings and you’ll know why.
“PALITAN”, the best Filipino film for the year 2012- for me. It’s my choice, and dare not contest it, okey?
words by robert manuguid silverio