<script async src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js"></script> <!-- Showbiz Portal Bottom 1 300x250, created 10/15/10 --> <ins class="adsbygoogle" style="display:inline-block;width:300px;height:250px" data-ad-client="ca-pub-1272644781333770" data-ad-slot="2530175011"></ins> <script> (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); </script>
Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Dec 29, 2022



‘FAMILY MATTERS’ is the only Metro filmfest entry that truly matters, as it mirrors our very own lives and not just another escapist entertainment. 

It’s about us, family members who laugh and cry and argue with our parents and siblings. 

The situations are so real and authentic and we’re sure you can see a reflection of yourself or a relative in any of its many characters.  

It ranks with some of the best films about filial relationships that we’ve seen, like “August Osage County”, “The Family Stone”, “Home for the Holidays”, “The Royal Tenenbaums” and the most recent, “Belfast”.

The film starts when the dad (Noel Trinidad) had chest pains and is taken to the hospital. His wife (Liza Lorena) and four kids gather around his bed. It turns out he has late onset asthma.

The eldest son is Nonie Buencamino (married to Agot Isidro and they have a son and two daughters), followed by Mylene Dizon (married to James Blanco and they have three daughters), Nikki Valdez (the spinster who lives with their aging parents) and JC Santos (has a daughter with previous girlfriend Ina Feleo and another daughter with his new partner, Anna Luna.)   

Theirs is not a dysfunctional family but more of an ordinary, normal one where members get into disagreements but the love that connects them remains.

It also shows realistically how a family grapples with the unexpected changes happening around them. 

A problem arises when Nikki suddenly leaves for the U.S. to meet an American suitor she met online. 

Her remaining siblings want to get a professional caregiver to look after their dad, but Noel is so against the idea.

They try to take turns in taking care of their parents, but the oldies are not used to such an arrangement and would rather be on their own. 

This plot element reminds us of Lino Brocka’s 1978 Metro Filmfest entry, “Inay”, with Alicia Vergel playing the title role as the widowed mom.

She has retired from teaching and now that she is aging, she tries living alternately with her various children that includes Dindo Fernando, Laurice Guillen, Chanda Romero, Orestes Ojeda, Dexter Doria and Ace Vergel.

It’s a well reviewed film, but the jurors then ignored it and gave most of the filmfest awards to Celso Ad. Castillo’s “Burlesk Queen”. 

It became controversial because the feisty Brocka chased and challenged the head of the jurors then, Rolando Tinio, into a fight. 

We cannot forget the MMFF that year as it also has several other good entries, like “Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising” by Mike de Leon, “Walang Katapusang Tag-araw” by Ishmael Bernal, “Banta ng Kahapon” by Eddie Romero, “Mga Bilanggong Birhen” by Romy Suzara and “Sa Piling ng mga Sugapa” by Gil Portes, but the jurors became so biased.

Mel Mendoza-del Rosario’s screenplay portrays the conflicts that unavoidably happen in a family in “Family Matters”. 

Nonie, an engineer who works in construction, is the most successful brother and he feels superior to his siblings and in laws who are not as well off as him, notably to James, who thinks he is “mayabang”. 

He is also not that attentive to his own kids and his own son (Ian Pangilinan) is alienated from him.

The film shows the generational gap between the oldies and the young grandkids who are so attached to their cellphones and gadgets.  

One of the most amusing scenes in the film shows Noel asking his kids and grandkids to surrender their cellphones to him for three days.

This forces them to talk and exchange stories with each other and catch on with their lives. The film has many situations that will alternately make you laugh and cry, just like in real life. 

One of the most moving scenes is when a friend of Noel died and he laments that he is losing his friends. 

We’re about the same age and that is also exactly what I feel. We used to be part of a prayer group of four couples that do volunteer work together. 

Now two couples have both departed. My own wife has left us and another good friend has left his widow, Anabelle Quiazon, the only remaining friend of mine in our group.

The film makes us reflect: what is your relationship with your own family right now? And it works because we don’t think we’ve seen a recent local film whose ensemble cast so persuasively portrays a real life family. 

The entire ensemble is superb and how they lost the ensemble acting award is beyond us.

The fact that “Family Matters” failed to win any major acting plum or best picture award is more a reflection on the kind of taste and integrity that the jurors have.

It is the best film of Director Nuel Naval, who’s best known for the blockbuster “Miracle at Cell No. 7” in 2019. 

We are sure the injustice that happened to “Family Matters” will be vindicated in the other award-giving bodies next year. 

It’s just too bad that there was a faux pas in the film’s promotion. Its press preview was held three days after the festival started. 

We were invited but we had a family affair that day and we got to watch it only in a mall theatre kater. 

We wish we could have come up with this review earlier, before the film opened in theatres, to help spread the word on how good it is.