Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Handumanan (2009)



Handumanan (Seymour Barros-Sanchez, 2009)
English Title: Remembrance

Let's cut to the chase. Seymour Barros-Sanchez's Handumanan (Remembrance) is a terrible film. It's a pity, really. There are faint glory notes, traces of the film that could have been, in the final film; and while these glory notes are very few and far apart, it dictates of the sincere endeavor, although muddled by a graceless execution, that should have been the moving force to push the film from mediocrity. As it is however, not even the immeasurable amount of collaborative talent, effort, and passion involved in the film can salvage it from being an inert, impotent and ignorable artifact of missed chances and wasted opportunities.

The film's failure showcases how directorial ineptitude can fully filter whatever magic or charm from the decently conceived story (written by director Barros-Sanchez and Richard Legaspi) of three disparate lives that fatedly connect in Dumaguete, a city famous for its writers. Sol Biglete (Chin-chin Gutierrez), who is more famous as Soledad Miranda, author of several popular romance novels, retreats to Dumaguete to recuperate after quitting her job in a publishing house that decided to abandon publishing romance novels for more lucrative erotica. Carlos Silva (Akihiro Sato), a model who is searching for his roots, sees his picture in one of Sol's romance novels, prompting him to search for her through the internet. Lean Tan (Jason Abalos), a government auditor who is temporarily stationed in Dumaguete, is an avid reader of Sol's works, and as he and Sol fatedly meet in the beach in front of her Dumaguete home, becomes inspired to write.

A film that relies on the miraculous machinations of destiny to have three distinct individuals meet and from there, evolve a life-changing bond requires a certain degree of cleverness, a dash of finesse, and probably a sprinkle of romantic energy to at least work. It is obvious that the goal of Handumanan is not only for the connections to work, but for its audience to care, if not to totally get involved in the lingering aches that these characters seek to cure through their shared furlough. Unfortunately, Barros-Sanchez tackles the film with the ardor of a chronically depressed paraplegic. Shackled by an unremarkable aesthetic and even more unremarkable performances from its leads (sure, Gutierrez and Abalos make most of the constricted roles they portray, but Sato suffers from an acting range that is limited to having his handsome mug on visual display), the film is grossly unsuccessful in driving its point. From start to finish, the film has been struggling to no avail to make visual, narrative, and emotional sense.

Moreover, Handumanan is paced like a tortoise gallivanting on the side of an empty road. I am aware Barros-Sanchez's minimalist intentions (the drooping pace, unspectacular visuals, monotonous musical score; the film is quite an array of minimalist clichés that it ceases to be minimalist) and commend the consistent restraint he professes yet the efforts are for naught since his minimalism translates as torpidness. While I admittedly have a fascination for stories that slowly unfold to reveal a quietly powerful tenderness that cannot be adequately expressed with hurried strokes, it is not merely the deliberate pacing that captures my attention and punctures my heart but the fluency in translating emotions into the cinematic medium, as done previously by Jeffrey Jeturian in Minsan Pa (One Moment More, 2004), or Jade Castro in Endo (2007). Harsh as it may seem, viewing the film in its entirety is a torturous endeavor. It miserably fails to reward the viewer with either logic to its languidness or a culminating sparkle in its staggered dullness.

8 comments:

before cinema said...

:-)

Oggs Cruz said...

:-(

Anonymous said...

i have heard horrible stories of how director seymour barros-sanchez drove the production of this film down to utter garbage. he didn't seem to have firm grasp of the whole concept of filmmaking and didn't even have the humility to learn in the before, during, and after the process. it's sad to see such incredible waste of time, money, and talent (of some people). Thanks for the diplomatic bashing of this film!=)

Jibrielle-sama said...

It is really sad. Even a highschool theatre arts director could have done better.

Lalissa Singson said...

sir, do you have a background in film-making?

Oggs Cruz said...

I'm not sure about the anonymous person above, but if the question was addressed to me: No I don't. I have a background in film-viewing.

Lalissa Singson said...

I wish to see your own film one of these days, learning from your own criticisms. Something that will bring you in Cannes, perhaps?

Oggs Cruz said...

I know what I can and cannot do. If my not making films makes me writing less credible to people, then so be it. I don't think filmmaking is a requirement in knowing what a good film is and what it is not.