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09 August 2014

Cinemalaya 2014: "Mariquina" (Film Review)

“Mariquina” is good artisanship at work. All the pieces fell into their proper places: a tight screenplay, music that highlights a scene than drown it, appropriate production design, fluid editing, good cinematography and a powerful ensemble cast. Its ambition may not be as grandiose or as philosophically lofty as some independent films, but the beauty of “Mariquina” is in its smallness. The problem of one family adeptly encapsulates Philippine society in the last twenty years.

The heart of the film is Mylene Dizon who centers this outstanding film. However, instead of resorting to melodramatic performance, she is restraint, which also best describes her character. Without her great performance, “Mariquina” would not be as compelling. The rest of the impeccable ensemble cast also makes “Mariquina” engaging and dramatic without being maudlin. Hats off to Milos Sogueco and screenwriter Jerrold Tarog, who also did the musical score.

Interestingly, Dizon’s character is named Imelda and I suppose that one cannot make a film about shoes in the Philippines without alluding to Former First Lady and the “Maleficent of Shoes,” Imelda Marcos. In this film, director Sogueco did not just allude, he gave the real Imelda Marcos a cameo. Some viewers question this move and initially, I thought Imelda’s presence was like a feces stain on a masterfully made Marikina shoes.

On the other hand, after further scrutiny, Sogueco may be sending us a message. As the real Imelda Marcos entered the shoe museum, Mylene Dizon’s Imelda silently stood, with a subtle grin, as she listened to the Madam. The real Imelda was dressed very well, while Dizon’s character was dressed plainly. The audience is presented with two opposing poles. The world renowned Imelda Marcos is the exact opposite of the caring and hardworking Imelda of this film and we should root for the latter. Forget the former.

Update (August 12, 2014): 

Fan Theory 1
"Mariquina" is a Romualdez-Marcos Family Allegory

Is Milo Sogueco’s “Mariquina” an allegory to the rise and fall, and a possible rise again of the Romualdez-Marcos family? Some cinephiles have speculated that key elements in the film give credit to such postulation. The most obvious clues are Mylene Dizon’s character is named “Imelda,” and the cameo of the former First Lady in the cinema. In fact, the two Imeldas shared one moment although they did not converse but a mirroring shot was apparent. Was this planned or accidental? Secondly, the film is also nostalgic about a prosperous period before the EDSA Revolution. In fact, the People Power Revolution was briefly featured in the movie. After that, the Guevarra family fortune took a bad turn. By the end of the movie, when the Guevarra patriarch was finally buried, the remaining family members dreamed of rebuilding a lost empire. This theory may be far fetched but that is the beauty of film interpretations, we cannot control want the viewers will see. 

Fan Theory 2
Some viewers/readers claim that "Mariquina" failed to get its due recognition during the Cinemalaya Awards ceremony because of Imelda Marcos' cameo in the film. As in the case of Imelda's presence in the Ateneo Scholarship Foundation celebration, Imelda's presence in the film may be interpreted as support for the Marcoses, if not, a willingness to forget the atrocities committed during the Marcos regime. But then again, this is just a theory sent to me by some readers. What do you think?

Which film will be our entry? 
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Which Films Should You Watch in this Year's Cinemalaya (2014)
Critics' Awards
Post-Analysis Essay (soon)

2014 Entries

2013 Cinemalaya Essays

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Our Choices: 2013 Cinemalaya

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