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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.

Jan 2, 2018

Maja Salvador & Iza Calzado Deliver The Two Best Performances In Local Films In 2017

SO WHO gave the best performances in the year that just passed? We’ve seen a lot of local releases last year and two performances stood out for us over all the rest.
First is the portrayal of Maja Salvador as Carson in “I’m Drunk, I Love You”, an underrated film but a fairly impressive directorial debut for newbie JP Habac. It was clobbered at the box office by a better promoted LizQuen movie from Star Cinema, but the fact remains that it’s the more affecting film between the two.

Maja as Carson is a young woman who’s long been in love with her best friend (Paulo Avelino). The scene where she finally summons her courage and declares her love for him will just melt your heart. He tries to reciprocate but she knows it’s more out of pity so she demurs. Also that scene where Paulo as Dio tries to make a pass at her after graduation and she rejects his overtures, certain that she has finally gotten over him.

Maja’s performance is such a delight because it’s so natural, so effortless, no melodrama, she’s not acting at all. But it’s not the kind of acting usually noticed by award-giving bodies that prefer performances full of sound and fury. Maja is doing very well now on TV with the hit afternoon soap, “Wildflower”. Here’s hoping she’d be given the chance to be recognized as a box office star also in a movie that will truly showcase her talent as a great actress. And here’s hoping also that JP Habac would be given another chance to direct a new movie as he totally deserves it.

Our second choice is Iza Calzado in Jerrold Tarog’s “Bliss”, another film that didn’t do well at the box office but will surely withstand the test of time with Iza’s indelible performance in the lead role. “Bliss” is a cryptic, cynical satire on the the quirks and foibles of the local showbiz industry, with Iza as Jane, a very famous actress who wants respectability by winning acting awards in a prestige project that ends up with her figuring in an accident on the set that leaves her paralyzed.

What follows is a surreal series of recurrent nightmares where she is repeatedly used and abused by her own husband, her mother and a lesbian nurse who molests her. You don’t know for sure what’s real and what’s imagined, but the scenes are strung together with a method in its madness. Through it all, Iza manages to give a consistent performance as the hapless victim who is as perplexed as the viewer as to what is exactly happening to her.

Both “I’m Drunk, I Love You” and “Bliss” deserve a second viewing because they’re both well crafted pieces of local cinema and because both Maja and Iza give outstanding performances that deserve a wider audience. Here’s sincerely hoping that both will not be bypassed by our current award-giving bodies.