Jun 10, 2011

[Movies] Crying Ladies (2003)

Crying Ladies (2003)I don't watch a lot of local movies. Yes, I admit it's largely a language issue and maybe even at times a cultural issue - it's very rare that a Filipino movie comes along that actually catches my attention or interest. It's a bit of a statement regarding the quality of a lot of the films that get produced locally - many of them tend to pander to popular themes that are cycled, repeated and rehashed over and over again. In many ways, our local comedies and romances are still following the same plots as their counterparts over twenty years ago.

And then there are those times that a movie or two slips through the cracks and I find myself in the theater. Usually it's because other people prompted me to do so. Or perhaps a credible reference source stated the movie was different from all the others. I can hardly remember what brought me to watch this particular movie when it came out, but I definitely do no regret having seen it back then.

Recently I actually introduced my parter to this movie, which felt a bit weird since I don't often recommend local movies to anyone. But this was always triggers fond memories, mainly of the ridiculous scenes that triggered a genuine reaction out of me. The movie is unmistakably Filipino in terms of its humor, but it was done in a manner that remains particularly poignant and quite simply funny, no matter how you look at it.

Crying Ladies is a 2003 Filipino comedy directed by Mark Meily. The movie won the 2003 Metro Manila Film Festival and was a submission for the 77th Academy Awards, although it did not make it as a nominee. The movie also won Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Child Performer at the 2003 MMFF.

Stella (Sharon Cuneta) is an ex-convict struggling to make ends meet while trying to maintain ties to her son with her ex-husband (Ricky Davao). When she learns that they're moving away indefinitely together with her son and his new wife, she makes a desperate plea to have the son stay with her for a while before they leave. At the same time, she's approached by Wilson Chua (Eric Quizon), a man of Chinese descent whose father has died and is in need of traditional mourners for the funeral. Stella's mother had done this previously and given the money offer, she agrees to help Wilson out.

Stella that recruits two other friends to join her. One is Aling Doray (Hilda Koronel), who was once a bit player in movies like Darna and the Giants and now continues to dwell on her past "glory". The other is the devout Catholic girl Choleng (Angel Aquino), who continually deals with the guilt of the affair she maintains with her friend's husband (Raymond Bagatsing). Thus the movie follows the lives of the three women together with Wilson over the course of the five days of mourning and the various side entanglements each encounters.

Sharon CunetaCover of Sharon CunetaAdmittedly, a lot of the movie is carried by Sharon, who is delightfully simple, plain and pretty much your typical streetwise Filipino woman in her depiction of Stella. She doesn't put on any of the airs that you'd associate with a local actress of her esteem nor does she ham it up to overplay her role of being less fortunate or at the very least financially challenged. It was a bit surprising that she didn't win the MMFF Best Actress award for that year, but then again it's hard to challenge a major dramatic push.

The movie doesn't have a super-impressive plot. Instead, we have a series of stories cut into snippets and moments that all tie together to make this surprisingly refreshing pattern. The thing here is that it's not about a singular plot driving all the forces forward. Instead it's all about the details and the little moments that make life in the Philippines as crazy as it is and the end result is a quaint little snapshot of life in the Metro.

It touches on everything from the little scams we play to save a Peso or two, the false hope provided by local variety shows, the Indians who run "5/6" loans on the fly, and of course the strength of the local Filipino-Chinese community (who play the roles of that the Jewish community plays in Hollywood). It has all these little snippets of life that just make for one funny movie - which I suppose implies that we're actually laughing at ourselves and the little antics we get into everyday.

I admit, the movie won't change your life nor will it inspire you to go into some creative binge or anything like that. It's just the sort of film that you'd want to watch with a good friend or perhaps members of your family that you actually like and see where things go from there. It's effective as a movie since it only aims to entertain you, while only making very light touches on possible educational or even moral value. And I can appreciate a movie that doesn't try to preach nor does it insult you with its stupidity.

Crying Ladies remains one of the few local movies that I've actually enjoyed and that I'm willing to see again every so often. It gets 4 excuses Stella uses to get out of paying for the jeepney fare out of a possible 5.

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  1. I love this film Esp the last few reveal minutes of the movie! Videoke!