Monday, August 4, 2008
My women friends invited me to a premier showing of a cinemalaya film. Actually, I knew beforehand that a male friend was involved in that film. So, without knowing the storyline, i already guessed that it was about children and music because those two things are dear to his heart. When the movie opened, the first scene already struck me. The father was being interrogated as to whereabouts of his own child (boy). My heart was pounding when the camera drew close to a sort of cabinet. And that was the beginning of engagement in the movie. Goose bumps arose when I saw pockets of cigarette burns on the boy's back and skin. He was delivered to a shelter where he met a supportive friend (girl) and a bully (boy). The friendship developed while the bullying intensified. Audiences at my back (students) made fun of the friendship by turning it into some sort of 'puppy' love; so they twittered as the scenes of 'getting to know you' were shown. Perhaps, i surmised they just do'nt want to feel sad for the boy. Onyok, the boy's name, was mute. He suffered from throat trauma because something was forced to it (according to the film). I guessed it is more of psychological trauma than physical (insertion of something). Remember that the boy always hide inside the cabinet whenever his father got angry and looked for him. The fact that one has to suppressed one's tears and even any sound coming from the mouth and nose will surely caused 'trauma' to the organs. Another thing that seemed 'wrong' about the plot was when the father was able to visit the child in the shelter. This is a 'no-no' among shelters especially the father was the abuser. The shelter and the administrative office are usually separated (geographically). Though i gave it a benefit of the doubt. The movie was so moving that I was also in tears while watching it, from the beginning up to the end. What I missed or the movie missed was the point when the father really underwent a 'real' change. Of course, it showed that the father persistently visited the boy in the shelter. But outside of that, no scene of how 'internally' he acquired that mode for change was depicted. Though the movie excellently depicted the boy's memories of how he was abused by the father and how he was able to differentiate a 'good' and 'abusive' touch. The role of Ariel, the crazy man, was terrific. When the boy and Ariel performed duo in violin, it was heavenly! The scenes on Ariel and his former deceased wife were neatly woven, i love it! The movie's contribution, i believe, is its alternative imagining of a father's role. Perhaps, it is a long journey for most abusive fathers i knew...but it's worth the try (though the movie failed to show how the father arrived at the point in his life).