Blood moon over a refugee camp
Pablo A. Tariman (The Philippine Star) - October 28, 2015 - 10:00am

Film review: Anino Sa Likod ng Buwan

MANILA, Philippines - Once in a great while, one wants to see filmmakers who can treat you to the unpredictable and the unconventional and casually dropping certain elements that go with the so-called essentials of filmmaking.

Jun Lana’s Anino Sa Likod ng Buwan (Shadow Behind the Moon) is one such film and indeed it is bold and daring — not because of its generous dose of sensuality — but because it emerged triumphant even without any semblance of musical scoring.

For another, there is only a cast of three (Luis Alandy, Anthony Falcon and LJ Reyes) with virtually no scene changes to speak of.

Not the least daunted, the film is in upgraded black and white (with ample cinematography by Carlo Mendoza) and with only one setting from its casual beginning to its suspenseful ending.

Indeed, the film requires utmost focus from its audience because the story moves in only one setting with the foreboding background of a dark night and with the gentle glow of the red moon which figures in an attempt at symbolism in the screenplay.

The eerie silence from the audience was a good hint they are following the narrative closely with one (probably) overfatigued viewer merrily snoring into slumber land.

Indeed, nothing prepares the audience for the unpredictable, if not stunning resolution that bared the complexity of the characters — each one of them with a story to tell about their involvement (made up or otherwise) in the counter-insurgency scenario.

But as the narrative moves on, you see the games the hunter and hunted play with incredulous ease. In this isolated valley synonymous with military operations, a soldier befriends a village man and his “wife.”

But the big revelation is that the soldier is a constant lover of the village wife while on patrol in the valley which has witnessed untold bloody military operations.

It must be the utter isolation of the village in the dark of night that drives them to unbridled sensuality while poor “husband” was away. Or did he deliberately go away to set up the soldier?

But screenwriter Lana has so devised the story that while the narrative moves, the characters gradually bare themselves including their dual vulnerability.

 She wants to keep her lover but she doesn’t want her “husband” disposed just like that.

He wants her all to himself but first he must use her — not just sexually — but to get to the hidden lair of the insurgents.

There is a fairly good quality of ensemble acting among the three who acted with undiminished intensity. In the hands of these three actors is the heavy task of making the film work and with no other characters to prop them up or give them temporary respite.

After close to two hours, you see a great experiment that (to this viewer) succeeded immensely without the benefit of scene changes and emotion-inducing music.

What the viewers saw on the premiere night was what they got in all its bare essentials.

For one, the demands of the actors were such they not only have to memorize and internalize their lines but undress and be exposed to frontal nudity in most of the sensual scenes.

The character of Luis is cool, passionate and scheming, the character of LJ reveals that behind a country maiden’s demure profile is a woman of extreme passion. Anthony didn’t exactly look like the aggrieved husband as wife (in her dialogue) catches husband and soldier-friend exchanging details of their private parts.

As it is, Anino Sa Likod ng Buwan is a triumph in innovative screenwriting and directing aided in no small terms by the powerful, if, calibrated performances of Luis, Anthony and LJ.

Anino Sa Likod ng Buwan was named Best Asian Film by Netpac (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) and the International Critics Prize from Fipresci (International Federation of Film Critics) at the 13th Pacific Meridian Film Festival in Vladivostok, Russia. It also earned for Lana the Best Director trophy and Best Actress citation for LJ.

Director Jun Lana is being interviewed during the 13th Pacific Meridian Film Festival in Vladivostok, Russia

 

ACIRC ANINO SA LIKOD ANTHONY FALCON BEST ACTRESS BEST ASIAN FILM BUWAN CARLO MENDOZA FILM NBSP PACIFIC MERIDIAN FILM FESTIVAL QUOT
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