#SmallerAndSmallerCircles :#TheKneeJerkCritic Movie Review

In fairness, Smaller And Smaller Circles turned out way much better than i expected it would be when i first saw the trailer.

I was not expecting much. Hindi naman chaka yung trailer pero maraming beses na akong naburn ng maayos na  trailer, only to be majorly let down by a subpar finished product.

Yun, saka yung clip showing an overacting Boyet de Leon.

Homaygad hindi ko kaya.

Kailan pa ba naging default ni Boyet ang Christmas acting? Parating na lang hamon ang siniserve kasi  eh.

Thank  God, Boyet’s involvement was a little more than a cameo exposure pala. Pero can you imagine, trailer clip pa lang of a cameo role pero dama mo na yung over-acting? Tumatumbling-pirouette siguro si Lino Brocka in his grave.

Si Nonie Buencamino pala ang bida sa dito bilang maprinisipyong ingliserong Jesuit priest na at the same time ay forensic investigator, at meron siyang minementor na hot-headed pero cutie pie na younger Jesuit priest played by Sid Lucero.

Cute, intelligent, principled, active. Teka, merong bang movement to make Jesuit priesthood happen? Hindi ako napadalhan ng memo.

Ang kwento ng movie, may serial killer raw na gumagala sa metro, victimizing mostly payatpatetot na mga bagets at tinatapon ang bangkay around the Payatas garbage dump. And to make things worse, wititit lang pala pinapatay ni kuya killer ang mga bagets, nilalaslasan pa ng fez at tinatanggalan pa ng junjun.

Ouch kuya killer! Hungharsh!

Pero alam niyo kung ano ang mas harsh? Making most of the main characters speak in straight English!

Alam ko, the source material of the movie is a Palanca award winning English novel by F.H. Batacan and i guess the writers wanted to be as true to the novel as they can. Pero seeing Bembol Roco na pwersadong magdeliver ng dialogue in english mga kuya? The struggle is real.

Actually hindi lang si Bembol. Almost all the actors were hampered by the insistence on straight English dialogues. Hindi naman kasi sila native English speakers eh, so parang mas concerned sila in delivering the lines right kesa embuing the lines with emotions and sometimes, humor.

Andaming magagandang linya sa movie ang natatapon kasi hindi nabibitawan nang tama ng mga actors. Nonie could have delivered a more three dimensional character kung hindi siya pwersadong kumuda in English.

At hindi na nasiyahan sa ingles na dialogue, may pa-french pa si mayor! Whaddaferk?!!!

They may have wanted to illustrated how well-rounded ang talino ng character Nonie  pero sa  pinaggamitang eksena, it just came off lang na pretensyoso.

Bukod sa the serial killer storyline, meron ring subplot ang movie tungkol sa cover-up na ginagawa ng Catholic church sa sa mga kleriko nitong nang-aabuso.

Nakakairita no? Triggered aqcou. But it was never really explored. Backstory lang siya.

Prior pala kasi sa kaganapan sa movie, merong binukelyang pedophile na pari si Nonie at imbey na imbey siya dahil imbes na suspindihin o tanggalin sa pwesto, inililipat lang ito sa ibang parokya ni Ricky Davao na nakakairita talaga as the greasy cardinal.

The two plots should have intersected somewhere, but somehow it didn’t. Supposedly, so well-connected si Father Pedo nalagay sa alanganin ang pondo ng forensic lab ni Nonie.

Kaso parang never siyang naging factor sa paghahanap nina Nonie at Sid sa killer. Di siya kumunek. For all the screen time alloted to the subplot, parang irritating na bangaw lang ang epekto niya kay Nonie.  Even the conclusion of that storyline was treated so abruptly, coming from out of the blue, and eventually immaterial sa takbo ng main story.

In terms of acting, the results were jagged. Nonie’s take is muted bordering on two-dimensional. Yung quirks ng characters niya were only verbalized rather than felt. Sid somehow tried to insert more personality into his character pero parang merong naghuholdback.

Sa mga supporting cast  na veteran stars naman, ang acting peg yata is “let’s do it bigger than life”. to hell with nuances. I liked Gladys Reyes’s portrayal as a grassroot politician though. Somehow, that worked quite well.

Nanghinayang lang ako dun sa role ng guy who tied the story together. Gwapo si Cholo Barreto pero pivotal yung mga linya niya sana eh. Done right, it could have had a bigger impact sa pelikula kaso… well ayun.

Same goes with Ross Pesigan’s character as the red herring in identifying the killer. He was introduce into the movie too little, too late. Hindi ko alam kung anu-ano ang pinaggagawa niya to be quirky enough to be suspicious, pero hindi siya nagwork.

And Junjun Quintana, well he just doesn’t have enough crazy to be frightening nor given much more to do to create a more symphatetic character. Parang nandun lang siya to do what he did. All to service lang ang takbo ng kwento.

As a crime procedural, i’ve seen some weekly American shows who have done it better. Pero as a Pinoy film, it is head and shoulders above most other in the same genre. Music is on point and lighting is appropriately dim, the colors somber.

Natawa ako sa eksena where reporter Issa Litton was previewing some raw footages. Say ni ate, “Eye strain. Andilim ng shot.” Hello, buong pelikula niyo andilim kaya. I wonder if the filmaker was being self-aware.

Technically, the movie was superior. Scenes were well staged at busog sa establishing shots at ambience. Nakakacringe yung unblinking focus ng camera sa handiwork ni killer. Sobrang realistic yung props na bangkay without being gory.

Gusto-gusto ko rin staging nung climactic scene ni Nonie at ni killer. Yung madilim tapos may slats of light lang illuminating their faces, broken lang quick flashes.

But what i like most about the movie is ambisyoso siya. It dared aspired to be a movie different from what has been locally produced before.  Director Raya Martin pushed the envelop in local filmmaking it terms of subject and visuals, at never nagtago behind “entertainment” as an excuse to deliver something common.

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4 Comments

  1. Marathon reading ng rebyus ni Mr. Arlo Lopez while waiting for Lovey to wake up and head for family lunch. What a delightful way to spend Christmas day. 😉

    Pero pass po ako dito sa film na ‘to. No, not because walang pa-junjun si Junjun Quintana, pramis.

    Ahahahahaha!

    Like

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