Breakthrough performances in 2012 Cinemalaya moviesBy Nestor Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
One of the fringe benefits of the annual Cinemalaya indie film fest is the opportunity it offers to relatively new actors to play meaty roles that enable them to show what they can do. These are the roles that usually go to bigger stars in mainstream productions, not to young artists still struggling to make a name for themselves.
Among the standout portrayals by relative newcomers that caught our attention at the 2012 Cinemalaya fest was the confident performance turned in by Annicka Dolonius in Marrietta Jamora’s “Ang Nawawala.” She played the “liberated” young woman who was able to get through to the uncommunicative lead character played by Dominic Roco.
Roco did well in his protagonist role, but it was Annicka who made a deeper impression with her quietly insightful and completely believable portrayal.
We tried to think of more established female stars who would have done as well in the complex part (Bea Alonzo, KC Concepcion?), but Annicka still won out, due to the freshness of her performance.
That’s one of the advantages of casting a relative unknown in a major role—her portrayal isn’t colored or limited by her actual persona, because we haven’t been exposed to it yet. So, we can focus completely on the character that she’s creating, with no distractions or “stellar references” to limit our perception.
Also interesting was the character played by Marc Abaya in the same film, because it was so different from the indie actor’s usual portrayals.
Lemuel Lorca’s “Intoy Syokoy” was another production that offered a lot of roles for relatively new players. The cast member who did best of all was LJ Reyes. She isn’t really “new,” but her take on her prostitute role was acutely perceptive and deeply felt.
Our heart went out to her character as she sold herself to the crewmen of big fishing boats—not for money, but for a bag of fish! She would then sell her “earnings” to be able to support her young siblings.
Many other actresses would have played the character’s emotional scenes for lush melodrama, but LJ focused on less superficial aspects, so the pathos she felt was painfully real.
As for her “sexy” scenes, they weren’t prurient, just graphic enough to convincingly show the degradation she was subjecting herself to, in order to feed her siblings and pay for the education that would eventually liberate them from the hell they were living in.
As for the movie’s lead, JM de Guzman (as Intoy Syokoy), he did his best to dirty himself up so he could “disappear” into his “faceless” and “loser” character, but he didn’t quite succeed, because his “stellar” persona still came through.
This proves our contention that it isn’t enough for a mainstream actor to want to go “indie”; he should also be able to be indie in his attitude, approach to the “ordinary” character assigned to him, and his ability to completely forget himself, his “image” and even his formal training as an actor.
“Indie” and “maindie” are worlds apart in this regard, so established players have to go for a really seminal change in themselves before they can make the key transition.
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