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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 18, 2016

Anino Sa Likod Ng Buwan Movie Review: A Must See Movie With Outstanding Performances Led By LJ Reyes

‘ANINO SA LIKOD NG BUWAN’, at long last, will finally open regularly in a mainstream theatre this Wednesday at Gateway here in Manila and Gaisano theaters in Davao. We were blown away by this very compelling work of writer-director Jun Lana when we saw it at UP Film Center and we urge you to see it by all means. If you’ve had enough of all those pa-cute romcoms so common in local movies, this one is truly a must see.

It is based on a play Lana has written years ago and happens entirely in a shanty in the hinterlands of Marag Valley on the night of a lunar eclipse. It’s actually filmed on a claustrophobic staged set, so there are times when it feels like a filmed play, but the austere style, the gritty cinematography and texture chosen by Lana to tell his story, is really something else.

There are only three characters in the film: LJ Reyes as Emma, Anthony Falcon as her husband Nardo and Luis Alandy as their soldier friend, Joel. They’re the only ones we see interacting with each other, but they are enough to sustain our interest all throughout the two hour film.

The film is about impoverished Filipinos displaced by the military conflict in Mindanao. LJ and Anthony are refugees who befriend a soldier, Luis, who is engaged in counter-insurgency operations. They all have their own respective deadly secrets. The story is full of surprising twists and turns that keep your eyes glued on screen.

Much has been written about the explicit bed scene between LJ and Luis that leaves very little to the imagination. But more than the sizzling love scene, you’d remember “Anino” as an excellent example of local filmmaking. The cinematic style shows the film as taken in one long single continuous shot (just like “Birdman” and “Damgo ni Eleuteria”, both award winning films.)
The narrative shows the characters in an engaging battle of wits, with layers of lies and deception being peeled one by one, building up relentlessly in one revelation after another, before erupting into a truly gripping and explosive final act.

Nothing more should be said about the plot so as not to spoil your viewing pleasure. Suffice it to say that “Anino” is not only well written and well directed, but also superbly acted by the three cast members, most particularly LJ Reyes who gives the performance of her career and surely deserves the international and local best actress awards she got for this movie.

As a director, Jun Lana does hit horror movies and romcoms as his sort of day job. On the side, he does very personal films for his own artistic satisfaction like “Bwakaw”, “Barber’s Tales” and the coming “Die Beautiful”. “Anino sa Likod ng Buwan” is on the top of this short list in his filmography so don’t fail to see it.