Review Ma 'Rosa--Brillante's brilliant brilliance

Discussion in 'Cinema: International' started by plsletitrain, Apr 9, 2018.

  1. plsletitrain

    plsletitrain Member: Rank 5

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    mjeyds.gif Sorry, I usually fail with coming up with catchy titles.

    I'll quote clayton's review here as its more well-written and coherent.

    Ma’ Rosa (Brillante Mendoza, 2016) begins with a lesson in the sari-sari store economy, with large quantities of sweets being purchased at a supermarket, then split up for individual sale. It then adds crystal meth into the equation, and then repeats the lesson, this time applying the same economic principles to community policing.

    Rosa Reyes is the matriarch of a poor but proud family, running a convenience store in the middle of an impoverished, overcrowded district. Her, and the family’s, existence is defined and propelled by the transactional – squeezing, dividing, cajoling anything and everything to a little bit here, a little bit there, but always just money to survive, never enough to actually get ahead. Then one night, the police arrive and arrest Rosa and her husband for dealing small quantities of drugs, and in a scene reminiscent of the horror movie aspects of Kinatay, are driven away from their home turf to a cavernous police station, where they whisked in through a back door to be held as undocumented, anonymous prisoners. The purpose of their arrest has nothing to do with law and order, but rather as an economic activity in itself – the Reyes, their freedom, and the dealers up the chain, become the marketable commodities with which the police can transact and earn their living.

    I suspect not many people are indifferent to Mendoza’s films – if you’ve loved them in the past, you won’t be disappointed with this and if you’ve hated them, this is not going to be a breath of fresh air. But if you’ve never seen any of his work, this might well be a pretty good introduction point. Like a lot of his other work, the film is like a fly on the wall documentary, detailing events within a confined timeframe, long single takes that follow behind characters through an urban landscape that almost becomes a character in its own right, a spare soundtrack that can be quite starling when it kicks in.

    Jaclyn Jose won the best actress at Cannes, for her portrayal of the title character, with a performance that is so understated that it’s sometimes easy to forget that she is acting, instead of just reacting with numb shock to the unfolding events. But although Jose was won the award, I don’t know if she really stood out – the large ensemble cast of Mendoza regulars were all very good … Maria Isabel Lopez almost steals the show with her three minutes of screen time!


    My thoughts:

    I made a special thread about it because I highly recommend this to everyone. Brillante is usually a hit or miss for me. He had a lot of misses, but he’s got some hits for me too. This one is for me one of his strong films, if not the strongest. This film got the attention of the Cannes. And even if I’m not big on awards, I think this film deserves whatever recognition it got.

    I know I’ve had enough with the "Look at us, oh we’re so poor and we live in hell" pity party that is the common subject of most indie Filipino films. But I don’t know why I loved this. Probably because it didn’t look like a movie at all. It was so real and reflective of the state of the Philippines that it almost looked like a documentary.

    Brillante engaged the talents of veteran Filipino actors here. The lead actress, Jacklyn Jose, is already a no-brainer. She could pull off any role, whether a protagonist, an antagonist, or even a plain bit player and she’ll still steal the show. I was particularly impressed with her here, with no make-up and “acting” that looked so natural it never felt like she was just acting at all. There’s a recognizable supporting cast(Julio Diaz, Mon Confiado, Mark Anthony Fernandez, Baron Geisler, Andi Eigenmann, Maria Isabel Lopez, and Allan Paule whose number of gay roles in indie films I’ve lost count already, and some others) that gives life to the bleak situation being portrayed.

    Brillante takes a bold statement here, but not controversial. Just congruent with reality. He centered on the controversial drug war, but not on the most publicized extra-judicial killings. He focused on the other side of the narcotic trade that’s been in the circles for so long but was never exposed.

    Rosa (Jacklyn Jose) is your typical slum family matriarch. Along with her husband, Nestor (Julio Diaz), they engage in small-time sale of illegal drugs. They got arrested after their house was raided and they were found in possession of the drugs. Instead of undergoing standard booking procedures at the precinct, they were brought to a separate backdoor office where they were made to bargain for their liberty. The policemen, seeing that they could make use of a bigger fish than the ones they caught, made them confess of their supplier. But despite doing so, they were still asked for money in exchange for their freedom. Same thing happened with their supplier. Their 3 children did all ways to raise the money. Giving up their goods, their body, their pride.

    Over-all I’d say this is a statement film. I commend Brillante for outing the abuses and corrupt practices of rogue policemen in the country. There are no long shots of nothing here, pure statements, pure reality.

    Please give this a watch if it stumbles on your radar.
     
  2. divemaster13

    divemaster13 Member: Rank 4

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    I think I've only seen one Filipino film in my entire life. They don't seem to get much attention over here; or maybe I'm just not looking hard enough. Anyway...

    Ma' Rosa

    Ma' Rosa has been added to your Netflix Queue

    Availability:
    Unknown

    At least it's on my radar!
     
  3. plsletitrain

    plsletitrain Member: Rank 5

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    "Gem"-like movies are hard to find in the Philippines. Its not really a haven for such but there have been several good output from the industry, especially recently. I'll be breaking my head to make a list of my top whatever Filipino films, but there are some good ones. Just believe me when I recommend it. afro.gif

    And thanks for adding it on your netflix queue. I'm getting the feeling it will be available sooner than I expect.
     

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