Thursday, January 04, 2007

Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo (2006)

Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo (Jose Javier Reyes, 2006)
Rough English Translation: To Marry, To Join, To Share

In a film festival that mostly caters to plebeian tastes and whose raison d'etre is commercial viability rather than artistic inegrity, it is quite pleasing to have something like Jose Javier Reyes' Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo (roughly translated in English as To Marry, To Join, To Share). It's a film that understands the clamour of the real moviegoers while understands the fact that the overused conventions of genre-filmmaking are getting old, too old. It's a film that acknowledges swift as an editing style, and natural as a comedic enhancement. In other words, Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo is dutiful in its profit-making mission, fresh in its artistic presentation, and actually quite entertaining.

Casting real life lovers Judy Ann Santos and Ryan Agoncillo as the film's lead couple is simply a stroke of genius. It saves a lot of time by deleting the need to establish chemistry and rapport. It only took Reyes around fifteen minutes to have Angie and Jed (Santos and Agoncillo, respectively) fall in love and get married. Although it feels slightly breezed through, I do understand the point that Reyes is not interested in pre-marital romances, but on what actually happens after the marriage; when all things previously invisible have materialized in a matter of days from the marriage ceremony. It's that pre-established chemistry that helps the film once the initial romance wears off. And there is actually a danger of shifting the focus from the central couple to the colorful support. Gina Pareno steals the show as Angie's histrionic mother who juggles her sausage-manufacturing business with her trite political career.

The storyline is probably a result of mixed real life experiences, conventional cinematic inspirations, formulaic genre-specific scenarios, and a select sprinkling of Reyes' talent in reorganizing real events into gems of filmic entertainment. Overall, aside from a few quibbles with regards to factual, legal (the questionable marriage license), and stereotypical issues in the film, its pretty much a faultless if not inconsequential tale. It's a comfort zone Reyes just can't get away from, and I'm actually glad he doesn't stray to uncomfortable territories --- we have seen him breezily tackling and portraying the lives of the middle class or the upper class, but he stumbles when its time to depict the lives of the less fortunate (he either forces the lower class to adapt to middle/upper class culture or just paints these characters as commonly acknowledged Lino Brocka-inspired caricatures).

It's actually quite admirable that Reyes trods a different path here when his recent filmography shows a director that has probably lost originality and artistic integrity (his recent features are all second tier horror/suspense flicks). Instead of drinking the panacea of sure success by rewriting the age-old tales of fairy tale-inspired romances, he cooks up something surprisingly refreshing (although it'd be criminal to claim that the film is entirely original --- it has shades of Hollywood films like Meet the Parents/Meet the Fockers, etc.) especially if taken from the viewpoint of someone who has suffered through the regurgitated rehashes of mainstream Philippine cinema.

1 comment:

R. Benipayo said...

this film is one of my favorite. hindi siya nakakasawang panoorin kahit pauliulit.