‘The Trial’–pluses and minuses
Chito Roño’s latest film, “The Trial,” restores our faith in the mainstream Filipino movie industry, because it’s insightful, professionally produced and doesn’t take local viewers’ sensibilities for granted. Most other mainstream movie productions appear to think that viewers here aren’t very bright, so they have to be constantly “entertained” to a hyper inch of their life!
“The Trial” doesn’t look down on viewers’ capacity to be moved by less predictable and florid fare, so it deserves our gratitude and patronage.
Having said all that, however, we would like to point out less than felicitous aspects to the film, which limit its effectivity and cinematically persuasive power: The movie’s depiction of the sex video of the “rape” that’s central to the film’s main conflict was initially much too fast and sketchy, thus perplexing viewers as to the actual significance of the romantic or forcible encounter.
Another “weakening” point is the fact that the film focuses too fully on John Lloyd Cruz’s “mentally limited” character, but not enough on the woman he loves, played by Jessy Mendiola.
Aside from Jessy’s unfocused portrayal, there simply wasn’t enough emotive “information” supplied as to her true feelings and motives.
While John Lloyd deserves the praise he’s gotten for his key and felt portrayal, it was sometimes too “Forrest Gump-derivative” for our full appreciation.
On the other hand, the big thespic revelation in the film was Gretchen Barretto as the mother of John Lloyd’s tragically departed best friend, Enrique Gil. Despite the fact that her character inhabited only a subplot in the film, Gretchen was able to come up with a fully felt and firmly focused characterization.
Other thespic standouts include Sylvia Sanchez and Vince de Jesus as John Lloyd’s “gender-switched” parents. Despite their felicitously textured and edgy portrayals, however, we should observe that the film’s “gay culture” quotient was too loud and lush for the production’s good.
Other limitations include some over-the-top supporting portrayals. Even Enrique Gil’s “tragic” characterization was less than fully felicitous, because it was too glossly “cinematic,” rather than truly pained.
All told, however, “The Trial” is still the best mainstream movie to date this year, so congratulations all around! We just wanted to be more useful by pointing out how it could have been even better.
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