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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.

May 14, 2018

Delia & Sammy Movie Review: A Movie About Senior Citizens And The Valued Issues Of Aging, Deterioration Of One's Health And Dying

‘DELIA & SAMMY’ is the directorial debut of Therese Cayaba, who also the film’s screenplay. Movies about ailing senior citizens are few and far between so we’d like to commend her for choosing this subject. The film won the acting awards in the Cine Filipino Filmfest awards night last Saturday at Kia Theatre: best actress for Rosemarie Gil as Delia, best actor for Jaime Fabregas as Sammy and the best supporting actor trophy for Nico Antonio as Roger, the caring security guard who selflessly helps the aging couple.

The other winners are "Eternity Between Seconds" as best picture and its director, Alec Figuracion, won the award for best direction. Ritz Azul won best supporting actress as the patient wife of Edgar Allan Guzman in "Mata Tapang".

Going back to "Delia and Sammy", Delia is a hasbeen actress and Sammy is a retired military man. They have spent a long life together and when we meet them, they live just by themselves in a huge cavernous house with no children or house help. Sammy has Alzheimer’s disease while Delia is diagnosed with terminal cancer. This could have turned the movie into a depressing doleful drama but writer-director Cayaba chooses to concoct an odd amalgamation of goofy road movie and moving end-of-life romance.

Some of it works, like Delia’s efforts to cope with Sammy’s worsening dementia. But a lot of it doesn’t, as it is revealed that Sammy is really such an unsavory character. Delia herself is not above deceiving their neighbors to give them a ride to take Sammy to the hospital. One day, she asks the friendly Roger to drive for them in their old rickety car without telling him that they intend to go to Baguio.

The film becomes a road movie at this point, with the car sputtering along and conking out in the

middle of nowhere. They have to push it and then stay in a hotel overnight while it’s being repaired. It’s probably the last journey the couple will likely have and Delia’s goal is to leave Sammy to his brother Manolo (Dido de la Paz) who lives in Baguio with his wife (Lui Manansala) and two sons (Anthony Falcon and Evan Tan).

But his relatives would have nothing to do with Sammy because he’s been such a big asshole. They all reject the idea of taking care of him as he was very nasty to them, especially to Anthony as Jimbo, who has since become a tranny renamed Jessica. Jessica tells Roger how cruel and abusive the homophobic Sammy was to him, showing the scars left behind by Sammy’s violent attacks on him just because he is a homosexual.

Delia’s last resort is to leave Sammy with his former mistress, Carmen (Tessie Tomas), a TV soap opera actress who’s remorseful for having an affair with Sammy even if she knew he’s a married man.

We ourselves are a septuagenarian so we know that the film’s issues about the deterioration of one’s health and quality of life brought about by the aging process, and ultimately, dying, are very valid ones. As such, the movie strikes a deep chord within us. But even more important is the realization that how you lived your life ultimately returns back to you. Yes, karma can be such a bitch. You reap what you sow.

“Delia & Sammy” could have been more touching and involving if the lead characters were a bit more charming, lovable people. But they don’t seem to have endearing qualities that will make the audience care for them and sympathize with them, especially with Sammy who is very mean to people and an incorrigible womanizer even in old age. It’s certainly not a pleasure to know him at all and he honestly deserves to rot in his old age.

The best investment you can have in life is being nice to your loved ones who would take good care of you in your twilight years and Sammy simply fails in this aspect as he just doesn’t have any redeeming factor. One thing we can’t understand about Delia is why she remains so loyal and caring to Sammy despite all his past infidelity. Her resentments surface every now and then, but she still sticks with him as he slowly slips away to memory loss. Other women would have dumped him so easily in a nursing home for old people.

What really saves the film from being a total bore is the full bodied interpretations of Rosemarie Gil and Jaime Fabregas in their respective roles, especially Jaime who truly nails the boorishness of his character perfectly. And they get great support from Nico Antonio who imbues his role as the helpful Roger with genuine warmth and sincerity. The scene where he finally loses his patience and screams at Delia is such a gem.

Also managing to steal his lone important scene in the movie is Anthony Falcon as the bitter and resentful Jessica, which is reminiscent of his similar role in “Requieme”. If you’d want to watch more fulfilling films about seniors in the movies, then we recommend “On Golden Pond” with Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn, “Our Souls at Night” with Jane Fonda and Robert Redford, “Iris” with Judi Dench and Jim Broadbent, and “I’ll See You in My Dreams” with Sam Elliott and Blythe Danner.