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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.

Mar 22, 2017

Kristo Movie Review: Underwritten Script Fails The Viewers To Fully Sympathize With The Tragic Fate Of The Lead Character

‘KRISTO’ is a film that refers not to our Lord Jesus Christ (there’s another “Kristo” movie about that made by Cine Suerte in 1996) but to the bet taker in local cockfights. It won five awards at the recent SinagMaynila Film Festival: for best editing, production design, sound, and best actor and best supporting actor for Kristofer King in the title role and Julio Diaz as his demanding boss.

The story is about a day in the life of Boy (King), a kristo or bet taker who is quickly established as a devoted and very responsible family man. His eldest daughter is graduating from high school as salutatorian and he even buys her a second hand laptop for a graduation present. You can see that he truly loves his wife and their four kids. Ulirang ama.

Aside from his work as a Kristo in the cockpit, Boy is very hardworking and also helps his wife (Angela Cortez) sell bananas in their small stall at the market, which is threatened with demolition. On the day of his daughter’s graduation, he’s such in a big hurry to go home and be with his family.
But his boss (Julio Diaz) requires him to work first in the cockpit. He later borrows money from his boss and buys ice cream for his children. With such a model husband and selfless father as the lead character, you get the feeling from the very start that this story about a great dad will surely end in tragedy.

And that’s exactly what happens. Somehow, you get the feeling it’s such an undeserved fate, what with so many mouths left to feed. Life is unfair, life is a bitch, but we already know that. You feel sad for the characters in the movie, but you feel more sad for the makers of the film who do not know how to give their story a more satisfying arc.

The film does capture the milieu of the cockpit that it aims to portray, but after countless sequences showing two cocks attacking each other and people placing their bets, it gets to be so repetitive and boring. You feel that they’re just stretching the material because the narrative is really so wafer thin and nothing else is really happening. It doesn’t even succeed as a character study because the script is quite underwritten.

“Kristo” is directed by H.F. (for Howard Francis) Yambao, who also did “Best Partee Ever” for which JC de Vera won the QCinema filmfest best actor award. There’s so much more to explore in his basically compelling material that could have been a powerful social document about poverty and survival, but he and his scriptwriter didn’t get to achieve this, so we don’t really get to sympathize that much with the lead character.

How we wish Boy were given more scenes where he verbalizes some of this thoughts and dreams for his family, how he got into his job as a kristo and how he really feels about his plight as the obedient lackey of Julio Diaz. As such, this would have been a more devastating odyssey of an ill-fated family man and we would have a more heartrending connection with him. No doubt this will also make the viewers leave the theater feeling pity or anger for the tragedy that happened to him. Alas, no such thing happens in “Kristo”.