Film review: Bamboo Flowers Ode to island life
Film review: Bamboo Flowers Ode to island life
Philip Cu-Unjieng (The Philippine Star) - September 11, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - From the opening scene filmed on the Abatan River in Bohol, Maryo J. de los Reyes’ Sineng Pambansa entry, Bamboo Flowers makes its intent very clear. It’s a cinematic ode to life on this island (direk Maryo’s mother hailed from Bohol), chronicling the lives of the regular people that populate the island.

The screenplay by Aloy Adlawan takes vignettes of narratives that exemplify how life here, filled with dreams, hopes, fears and disappointments, takes on a universal hue that we all can identify with. Whether it’s a prodigal woman coming back to Bohol with son in tow, or a voluntary tourist guide on the river tour who has a domestic crisis involving her son and her father, or a young couple trying to establish their respective careers in the hospitality sector and merchant shipping — they all carry aspirations and face frustrations, ordinary lives filled with complications.

The ensemble cast comes through with flying colors, and I’d single out Irma Adlawan and Mylene Dizon for their textured performances as different kinds of mothers. Young actress Max Collins as a girl who works in a resort hotel as a chambermaid, and who is propositioned by an elderly foreign tourist, is likewise commendable. My only reservation is being that her physical appearance is very mestiza, it would not normally be the type the foreigners would go for. More often than not, they fall for the exotic, dusky type.

Desirous of providing “snapshots” on the plight of regular island inhabitants, the film takes on such themes as school bullying, urban migration and vice versa, the problematic path of establishing careers, and making ends meet in a limited economic environment. This is done under a prism of sincere compassion and shafts of humor. I especially liked the overprotective mother that is Irma’s character, and the sequences of her son (Omel) as he works in a Tagbilaran department store.

As direk Maryo was ready to expound, his aim was to create a film that provided family entertainment with light, dramatic moments. This he accomplishes within the context of ordinary lives. As a result, there is a very measured, subdued tone throughout the film. While some may search for dramatic histrionics, or more extraordinary situations, this film keeps such moments in check, looking more for reality as well as the extraordinary and transcendent within that milieu.

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