Contrasting lessons in actingBy Nestor U. Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Aside from leads Aga Muhlach and Regine Velasquez’s savvy and crackerjack performances, the current film, “Of All The Things,” boasts of “support” portrayals that are similarly view-worthy.
They are paced by Tommy Abuel’s solid and insightful portrayal of Aga’s father, who is as focused as his son is weak-willed and bruised. It helps that Abuel is a lawyer in real life, a dovetailing detail that makes his characterization of a law professor acutely credible.
Interestingly, Aga also comes across as believable in his depiction of a guy who flunked the bar. The actor has to spout a lot of legalese, and instead of fumbling his compound-complex sentences, as many other local actors would, Aga passes muster, probably because he bothered to give those moments the extra study, attention and reflection they required.
Thus do Muhlach and Abuel present themselves as sterling exceptions to the lazy rule in local movies, where many actors aren’t believable as “intelligent” or “well-born” characters—which is why most productions give them a wide berth—which, in turn, further constricts the relevance of those movies to a wider range of viewers, beyond the cliche sosyal or masa types.
Aga and Tommy are at their best as a synergistic thespic tandem in the movie’s most difficult scene, in which the father is finally forced to tell his son what’s so grievously, deeply wrong with him. —But, as the father resolutely points out, this doesn’t detract one bit from his love for his dismally troubled son.
That sounds good, but as an acting challenge, it’s dauntingly difficult to believably execute. To their credit, however, both actors make it “work,” and viewers feel every bit of the shared love and pain they express. Now, that takes talent (and experience).
Another supporting player who does well is Ariel Ureta. His role (as Regine’s “loser” father) is much less showy than Tommy’s, but Ariel plays it with just the right touch to get his thespic point across.
Alas, we can’t say the same for Gina Pareño, who plays Regine’s blowzy “former beauty queen” mom in her characteristic “colorful” fashion. Director Joyce Bernal does well otherwise, but is unable to rein in the veteran actress, who has to punch up her character and dialogue or else!
Thus, the varied portrayals in “Of All The Things” teach viewers and aspiring actors alike contrasting lessons on what and what not to do in performing for the big screen
“Less is more” is a useful rule of thumb for “over-givers” like Pareño, but it can’t be the only name of the acting game. As the key scene between Aga and Tommy clearly shows, there are times when you’ve got to go the distance, to dig your heels in deep and let the thespic shrapnel ricochet where it will!
It’s the rare ability to observe these rules separately, and occasionally in tandem, that distinguishes the best actors from the also-rans and the trying-hards.
Well, whoever said excellence was easy to achieve? That’s why it’s dearly prized, because only a few have the artistic experience and understanding to know what it is and to deliver it with the fierce insights and pulsating passion required.
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