I got very curious of Brillante Mendoza’s work after his victory at Cannes for the film “Kinatay”. I saw one of his films years before, “Masahista” (The Masseur) and I wasn’t really a big fan. I just didn’t care much for the style or the storytelling ability. The film just doesn’t show the promise or the makings of a great director.

I’ve heard so much about “Serbis” and “Kinatay”. Most of it strong reactions of how raw it is and the director himself was blatant to say that he intends to do the kind of films that you’ll either hate or love. I choose to reserve judgment until I get to see both films. After seeing “Serbis”, I have to say that Brillante Mendoza improved a lot from the time he made “Masahista”. While the film is not outstandingly brilliant or groundbreaking, I definitely saw a lot of promise there. I get the lack of plot. It was intentional, it was meant to be a slice of life, a day in the life of a family in moral decadence. What I don’t get is the lack of perspective and “voice”. While the director seemingly takes the observation post and chooses to reserve judgment, the fact that you choose what to show in front of the audience is an obvious statement that you’re condemning that “immorality” has become a normalcy in the lives of the Filipino people. I know another layer to it that everything is just a parallelism to the Philippine movie industry. I’m not criticizing the judgment but at least if you’re going to say something, commit to it rather than putting it as an undertone. Take for example, the kid who took the extra change and lied about it. If the director just really wants to stay on the observation post and reserve judgment, then the camera has no business following the kid. By choosing to show it, you have obviously taken a stand. Not that I’m looking for a rationalization or a justification the cause for the degradation of morality of the whole family but if you’re showing it as something wrong, I certainly wouldn’t mind a progression on how the lack of morality would drive these people. Putting it on a plain field just makes the whole thing monotonous.

I haven’t had the chance to see “Kinatay” but from the reviews that I have read, it had the same problem. Brillante Mendoza has the eye and the promise to make it as a great director but if he keeps on serving the same thing and committing the same mistakes, then I wouldn’t be surprised he’ll soon be buried in the pile.

My rating: 6.5/10

IMDB Rating: 6.4

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