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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jul 26, 2012

Cinemalaya Movie Review: Requieme - A Heartbreaking Comedy

AFTER HIS DEBUT in the moving family drama, “Nino”, Director Loy Arcenas chooses a black comedy for his second film, “Requieme”, a combination of requiem and the gay word “kiyeme”. Its characters are all looking for something to give more meaning to their unhappy lives.

This excursion into dark human behavior is evident in Shamaine Buencamino, a barangay captain, and her husband, Rez Cortez. They have a lechon business and Rez cheats on his wife to gain some money on the side. When a distant relative of Shamaine kills a famous designer in the U.S. (inspired by the Versace-Cunanan murder case), she moves heaven and earth to get the body of the killer for burial in Manila so she can use it to forward her own political career.

Shamaine tries her best to contact with the killer’s mom from whom the boy has long been estranged. The irony of it is that she herself is estranged from her only son, Anthony Falcon as Joanna, as she cannot accept his being gay. Joanna lives in with her boyfriend and earns a living as a seamstress-designer. She has a heart of gold and this is seen when she sacrifices the money she’s saving for a cosmetic procedure (she wants to have boobs) for the wake and funeral of the old shoemaker in their neighborhood who died without any relatives.

“Requieme” is a film difficult to make for the indie circuit and its limited budget since it requires a very large ensemble cast (there are more than 30 characters with speaking lines) that deals with serious issues like family, being an OFW, homosexuality, dying single and alone, politics. They obviously spent more as even the news footage scenes about the murder in the U.S. involving Robert Sena as the newscaster, Jake Macapagal as a Philippine consulate official, Raquel Villavicencio as a psychiatrist, and other actors were especially shot for the movie. It also has several locations, particularly when Joanna was looking for the long lost relative of his dead friend.

Although not all the threads of the story work (the scenes involving the remains of an OFW that was lost in transit seem to belong to another movie), we admire Arcenas for his daring in coming up with such an ambitious project. The scenes of Joanna going through all sorts of bureaucratic difficulties in having the shoemaker buried are rather overdrawn, but it underlines his basic humanity. That’s why we are somehow hoping he’d be reconciled with his mom when Shamaine gets into the same eatery with him. He recognizes his mom but instead of acknowledging her, he decides to leave in a hurry. As he earlier told his boyfriend, “Hindi na ako babalik sa amin.” And with that, Arcenas decides to end the movie on a heartbreaking note that make us feel sorry for them. Both Shamaine and Anthony deliver sterling performances they should get acting nominations at the very least.