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Rosario is exactly just like a rosary. It is full of good intentions, grandiosity, classicism, and morality. However, in the end, like a rosary, watching the film is a laborious effort. Visually, the film is a well-decorated parish church complete with all the authentic pre-World War II trappings that can make any mayor and parish priest swoon and oblige the laity to attend mass. The production value is indeed money well spent. We are talking about money money money here. The cameo from ABC-5 head honcho Manny Pangilinan, who is also the film’s mayoral image, is disheartening and out of place. Albert Martinez showed promise as a director but lacked the understanding of the film medium, thus sadly, some of the film crucial scenes were diffused. Although I do like the scene when the farmers lighted torches and waved them around in the field. Jennylyn Mercado played the classic lustful vixen. Unfortunately, her superb performance was not utilized completely in the film and as a result, her brilliant moments were showcased intermittently. It is therefore hard to really hook on the character Rosario because the audience, or at least this one member, could not really grasp this woman’s motivation. I could sense that Jennylyn was trying to convey it with her facial expressions but unfortunately for her, the film was slowly treading a dreadful didactic path. Her last scene with Sid Lucero, the film’s scene stealer, was almost perfect until Dolphy’s exasperating narration ruined the whole shot.
What do we know about the character Rosario? All we know from her character is she spent time in New York so she smokes and has a flapper’s fashion sense. She is a stifled daughter of an abusive landlord, and so she longs to rebel and bed the most proletarian rebel she could find in her father’s plantation. Then what, a cliché of all clichés, she goes to a nunnery to mend her lustful ways, but ends up running away. The rest of the events in her life seems redundant after that. Considering that this is a true story, it does not necessarily mean you have to tell the story as it happened. I think what most of us moviegoers, the 20 of us who actually watched in Robinson’s Galleria, wanted was something new or something classically brilliant. We were not looking for a repeat of Gallaga’s Oro Plata Mata or Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s Karnal, but a breath of fresh air will do. I guess the trailer of Rosario had us fooled. It was stunning and Jennylyn Mercado really looked like an authentic modern Filipino lass during the American period, so promising. But by the end of the movie, we see her being punished for her sins and alienated by society. Another cliché of Philippine cinema, someone is required to ask for forgiveness.