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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 18, 2016

Dagsin Movie Review: Tedious, Slow Moving Drama With Erroneous Production Design

‘DAGSIN (Gravity)’, an entry in the Cinemalaya, opens with a retired judge, Justino (Tommy Abuel), putting a gun on his head playing russian roulette on himself. He pulls the trigger but it doesn’t explode and he sighs: “Another day in paradise.” Actually, it’s more like hell for the viewer, not exactly paradise, for watching “Dagsin” is a big test of patience.

The narrative unfolds in such a tediously slow-moving manner. Scenes are unnecessarily over extended and the lines of dialogue are repetitive and just go on and on. In this day and age when the attention span of viewers is so short, it’s just not at all exciting to watch. If we were watching this on DVD, we would have used the flash forward button to quicken the pacing.

The widowed and crippled judge has a caregiver in his adopted daughter, Mercy (Lotlot de Leon), who finds it hard to relate with with him as he’s such a grumpy old man. His wife, Corazon (Marita Zobel), just died and he then reads the diaries his wife left behind. Their love story that starts in school before the Second World War is then shown in flashbacks, ala-”The Notebook”.

The young Justino is played by Benjamin Alves and the young Corazon, by Janine Gutierrez, who looks every inch a stunning movie star on screen. The period romance between them is almost like another movie. Corazon, the daughter of an American military man and a Filipina, is a young woman ahead of her time. She’s even the one who proposes marriage to Justino. But World War II erupts and Justino has to serve as a soldier so they get separated.

There is an attempt to spend on the film’s period production design. They use appropriate old houses and buildings, a vintage car and costumes appropriate for the era. But they make such a glaring mistake in putting the photos of supposedly popular movie stars of the era (before the war) on the wall of Corazon’s room: Gloria Romero, Luis Gonzalez and Eddie Arenas.

Whoever posted them there did not make the correct research because Gloria, Luis and Eddie all gained fame in the 50s, long after the war has ended. They should have used instead the pictures of Rogelio de la Rosa and Carmen Rosales who were the more popular pre-war stars. Another mistake we can’t understand is why they still show pictures of a younger Tommy and a younger Marita in Justino’s room. They should have used the photos of Benjamin and Janine to make things consistent. With such careless attention to details, we felt the movie does not really merit our time, not even if Tommy is going through a full range of histrionic acting in interpreting the role of Justino.