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28 July 2013

Carlo Obispo’s “Purok 7” (Review): “The New Virtuoso and His Mona Lisa”

“Purok 7” is a heartwarming drama that does not dilute the bleakness of real life in the Philippines.  The film does not pander to blind optimism but it confidently shows that the ordinary Filipinos in the countryside thread on with uncanny resolute with or without government intervention. Carlo Obispo’s confidence as a director is evident by helming a minimalist film and he lets the audience immerse in the topography instead of inundating us with artsy images.  There are no complicated shots or ambitious camera work; Obispo relied on the solid foundation of his well-written screenplay and it works wonderfully. By the end of the movie, all the characters come out real and believable.  The story rises like the sun in the morning.  Most new directors tend to over-direct but Obispo exhibits calculated control, and frames his shots carefully.  Nevertheless, some scenes would have been more potent if they were shots in close-up, particularly in capturing the movie’s main character Diana, adeptly played by newcomer Krystle Valentino.

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If Carlo Obispo is the unseen painter of this piece, Kyrstle Valentino is its Mona Lisa.  Valentino is an instinctive actor. Obviously, with the guidance of Obispo, she did not sound like a child star in a soap opera spewing up artificial emotions. Her delivery of lines is natural and affective. Hers is a breakthrough performance.  She best reveals her character in subtle moments.  The scene in which she learns that she just had her first period is priceless.  All the mixed emotions registered on her face.  The film becomes even more engaging whenever Valentino graces the screen.  In a perfect world, she would be a star and not some half-breed fair-skinned teenagers that littered our entertainment industry.  If the powers-that-be in our industry have some sense, she may become our next Nora Aunor. She certainly has a head start in subtle acting.

The only flaw of the film for me is its ending. If the preachy voice over was removed, the film would still retain its magic.   After all, most Filipinos are already well aware of the problems facing overseas Filipino workers and their families left behind to fend for themselves.

4/5
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CINEMALAYA 2013 REVIEW SERIES

NEW BREED Film Reviews
Nuwebe
* The Diplomat Hotel (watched but no review)

DIRECTORS SHOWCASE Film Reviews
* Ekstra
* Liars
* Porno
* Sana Dati

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