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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.

Aug 13, 2013

David F Review: Three Different Episodes That Lack Cohesion

WHAT HAPPENED to Director Manny Palo? He had an auspicious directorial film debut in last year’s Cinemalaya with “Sta. Nina” that eventually won awards not only locally but also abroad. He then went into mainstream and made the romantic flick, “A Moment in Time”, and it was badly put together. Now comes his new Cinemalaya entry, “David F”, and it’s also a disappointment.

Actually, it starts quite promisingly. Three female impersonators perform a perky song and dance number in a club. One of them is Dave (Dax Martin), an African-American the other performers make fun of because of the color of his skin. He lives with his mom (Mitch Valdes) in Angeles where his friends are other Fil-Ams like him, the children of American servicemen who used to populate the city. Another African-American guy (Will Devaughn) volunteers to help him find his biological father in the U.S.

From here, the movie jumps into the turn of the 20th century when a black soldier, David Fagen (Quester Hannah), brought here by the Americans to colonize our country, chooses to be a deserter and joins local rebels. Two Filipinos capture him and want to kill him to get the prize the Americans put on his head. These are Sid Lucero, who looks so rotund, and Art Acuna, who’s huffing and puffing and overacting all over the place like he wants to win his 3rd Cinemalaya best supporting actor in a row (he won for “Nino” in 2011 and for “Posas” in 2012). David Fagen is rescued by his feisty wife, Eula Valdes.

The movie then jumps in the 1940s during the Japanese Occupation. A mute and pregnant black girl (Mariella Castillo) is married to a guerrilla (Rocky Salumbides) and lives with his family led by Shamaine Centenera. This ends with both Mariella and Rocky being killed in an encounter with the Japanese. Then the movie returns to the present and ends with Dax performing another musical number.

Our reaction after the movie is: “Ano yon?” We thought the episodes from three different time periods will be coalescing into one cohesive whole at film’s end, but nothing of the sort of happens. They’re not at all interconnected and you cannot really see the point of each episode. The original David played by the black American actor is shown appearing in the end of the second episode, already an old man. But for what reason he is shown again remains a mystery to us.

Too bad because the film has fairly good production values, particularly the production design and the cinematography. Mitch and Dax are also good as mother and son, but it all comes to naught. Sayang.