Confluence of mixed emotions
The final telecast of “Honesto” earlier this month was a confluence of mixed emotions for us. We felt sad for Joel Torre, whose originally just jovially larcenous character had to transmogrify himself into a really evil super-monster in order for the series’ rapidly escalating and complicating plot and subplots to “satisfyingly” hit the required heights of clangorously concluding conflict and crisis!
The actor is known to be one of our more gifted and judicious thespians, but he was compelled to rise to the over-the-top occasion by playing it “dementedly” vicious and vile. Also a victim was the other superior actor in the cast, Nonie Buencamino, who was cast as Joel’s “yes” man and sidekick. His thespic cross to bear was his character’s having to go from bad to good in practically the blink of an eye!
Being a pro, Nonie did what was expected of him even if it sorely rankled, but his thespic reputation got a beating, just the same.
This is the sad prospect of even the best teleserye actors, that they sometimes have to act against believable character, just to keep the show, especially its usually “forcing-through” ending, to keep viewers “satisfyingly” astounded.
Well, we just hope that they get paid a lot for their pains, so they can at least be crying—all the way to the bank!
A third asset of “Honesto” was its title-role player, the new child actor, Raikko Mateo. We liked the fact that he didn’t look tisoy and didn’t resort to the usual cutesy, porma acting to score easy points with viewers—so, we were prepared to cite him as one of the best acting discoveries of the season.
However, midway through the long run of “Honesto,” we noticed that the boy’s portrayal was becoming less exceptional, because he was being made to mouth “sensitive” dialogue that was too wise and “knowing” for somebody as young as he was.
This is a common flaw in local TV scripting, that “sensitive” writers put fervent thoughts and feelings in the mouths of juvenile characters, who end up sounding too self-consciously wise to be naturally and empathetically believed.
It’s much more difficult and apt for an adult writer to think up dialogue that’s believable for child characters to speak, and many teleplay writers just can’t make that all-important distinction.
Aside from badly-written dialogue, Raikko was also limited by the fact that his character was so consistently sweet and true-blue. After a while, this made his performance feel predictable and even dull.
Despite these limitations not of his own making, however, the young actor is still a genuine find, so we hope that he’s given a better and more genuinely child-like character showcase on TV real soon.
Our fourth note on “Honesto” involves the character played by Gina Pareño: She was introduced late in the story, but it didn’t take us long to figure out that her “mysterious” persona would turn out to be the evil Joel’s mother.
True enough, it was soon additionally revealed that the reason Joel’s character had become such a “monster” was the fact that his mother had abandoned him when he was just a boy.
So, Gina’s character had to come back to beg forgiveness and try to help her neglected son before it was too late.
Having been given those “relationship” parameters, we guessed that, at the teleserye’s conclusion, which would happen only weeks later, the Gina character’s scripted “assignment” was to get in the way of the bullet that would be fired to kill her son. And, what do you know? That’s exactly what transpired!
Are we prescient, or what? No, it’s just another case of pat and all-too-predictable scripting.
Our final comment on “Honesto” is a hopefully instructive note on “missed opportunities.” When the series was just starting, we observed that, if it was handled right, it could end up as another “May Bukas Pa,” which ran a really long time because its juvenile central character, played by Zaijian Jaranilla, was tasked to help make different people better human beings in varied spheres and subplots of their existence.
Rightly or wrongly, “Honesto” chose not to take that “case-study” path, and instead “stayed” with its main storyline about Joel’s concupiscence and greed, and how it adversely affected so many people.
Most instructively, however, “Honesto” didn’t last as long as “May Bukas Pa,” and was less of a dramatic sensation. Lesson learned?
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