Thursday, September 02, 2010

Sa 'Yo Lamang

Sa 'Yo Lamang: Powerful, Flawless, and Inevitably Destined to be a Classic
by Reymundo Salao

[THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. The Spoiler-free Review can be found HERE]

The Alvero family seems to be a simple happy family. Amanda Alvero lives with her children; her eldest daughter Dianne whose successful career has made her act as the breadwinner of the family. Then there's Coby who was influenced to take up the Nursing course because of it being a career that promises financial abundance, James who is a smart achiever in college, and Lisa who is a young teenager in High School.

Their harmony is suddenly disrupted when Franco, their estranged father of the family resurfaces and tries to reunite with the family. Although Amanda and the other children welcome him with open arms, Dianne is still bitter about the fact that he abandoned them years ago. And this poses a tension within the family.

On the other hand, we find out that Dianne's strict rules imposed on her siblings are eventually coming to a head; Coby reveals his angst about Nursing course not actually his choice, and James' desperation towards getting a high grade leads him to resort in cheating. Ironically, Dianne's own personal love life is tarnished with sheer imperfection.

Honsetly, this may be the first movie I have watched in the theaters that I really have no idea what it is about; I have not seen the trailer for this, I have not even read the synopsis for this. I just watched it because I knew that it was directed by Laurice Guillen. And I was indeed in for a cinematically pleasant surprise. I loved this movie very much, and I consider it one of those rare Tagalog Mainstream movies that are extremely excellently well made, with an almost flawless quality. Obviously, movies like this are destined to be classics.

This movie is a solid in the manner of drawing very impressive and powerful performances from its actors and actresses, and is able to achieve a very effective storytelling, so much so that each dialogue is profoundly meaningful, the characters have real depth in their personalities, and the situations are truly challenging. There is an incredible degree of coherence in Laurice Guillen's directing, given the fact that the story introduces numerous characters and still is able to give them abundant character development, even though some of their screen times are only brief.

There is a scene in which Coco Martin's character is talking with somebody who is obviously a fling of his. The dialogue only lasts more or less a minute, but it immediately makes you understand both characters. The "secret daughter" who is also in a scene that lasts not more than maybe three minutes; her scene is brief but her character immediately bonds with the audience. 

I am also glad that this scene is devoid of awkward acting. Many Tagalog movies tend to have that pattern of possessing one, two, or twenty scenes with awkward acting, script, and sequence. The scene at the end when Coco Martin plays a guitar on the deathbed of one of the characters could have easily been one of those, but fortunately, the pacing was so good that the scene was not prolonged, avoiding such awkwardness to exist.

I was impressed that Bea's Dianne characterization was imperfect; she was sort of an asshole herself for fooling around with Diether, a pattern that makes sense if you take into consideration that Dianne is very much similar to her parents. I loved how the scene where her character was screaming her stress off, and was immediately extinguished by the character of Diether goofing around. It's as if Guillen both utilized and parodied this overused sequence in Tagalog dramas. 

This movie bombards you with powerful performances; extremely high powered dramatic performances that just come one after the other. And not in a very exaggerated manner, but with a disciplined good pacing. Even though it is a heavy tear-jerker, it is not much of a tragedy. Sure, one of the characters did die, but this storyline was done with a bittersweet sensibility and it laid a feeling of hope, optimism, and redemption in the end; it closes with a happy ending. 

Excellently and brilliantly weaved together into a dramatic masterpiece, Sa 'Yo Lamang is something that will surely become a Timeless Filipino Classic.

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