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Friday, September 7, 2012

Brillante Ma. Mendoza's "Captive" (Review): Introducing Isabelle Huppert and the Disenfranchised Victims

Review #1: Disenfranchised Victims

It is very hard to completely like Brillante Mendoza’s “Captive.”  I praise him for his efforts for handling a very controversial piece but given that, everything else in the film seems unfulfilled.  First, the Dos Palmas Kidnapping is relatively recent and so the timing may not be right.  It may still be difficult for any filmmaker to objectively and bravely handle such material.  Any media insiders will tell you that much of the heinous brutally committed by the kidnappers were kept hidden in the public to lessen the terrorist group’s impact.  The goal of terrorism, after all, is to implant terror in the public consciousness.  By voluntarily choosing not to air some of video materials, the kidnappers lost some of its importance in media as time went by.  Unfortunately, the rest of the world had also forgotten the victims, until their final rescue. 

The biggest failure of the movie, however, is that it disenfranchised the Filipino kidnap victims.  They are relegated as supporting characters.  Among the Filipino cast, Ronnie Lazaro stood out.  But the focus of the movie was mainly on Isabelle Huppert’s character, which may be understandable because the film was produced with French money.  However, despite Huppert’s admirable performance, if you remove her character, the movie can still stand on its feet.  For me, it felt like the movie was made for the foreign market and not for the Filipino people, and thus, this may be the reason why Brillante’s take on the subject matter is skin deep.  What is Mendoza’s agenda as a director? Some of us who admired his work often wonder about that.  No matter what movie Lino Brocka made, you can always see his agenda ingrained in his film whether the film was melodramatic, political or comical.  Judging from Mendoza’s success abroad, Mendoza may be one of the candidates to fill in Brocka’s shoes. Only time will tell.  [From T.M.A. of "The Movable Circle."]

Merveilleux! Isabelle Huppert. 
Photo by Nicolas Genin. Taken 
from Wikipedia. Click this for 
more information
Review #2: Introducing Isabelle Huppert

The best thing about “Captive” is that it introduced Isabelle Huppert to Filipino moviegoers.  If the United States has Meryl Streep, France has Huppert.  Huppert is the most nominated actress in the French Academy Award (with 13 nominations.)  It is a delight to see another style of acting that does not rely on hysterics or overrated "under-acting."  Huppert is like a cross between our own Jacklyn Jose and Gina Alajar.  Huppert performance is always internal, which makes her dramatic outburst more potent and necessary.  Watch "Captive" before our cinema owners end its run after realizing this is not another installment to the Bourne series.  [By Rob San Miguel]

Review #3: "A Stunted Assault on the Twentieth Century Narrative Proliferating in our Post-post-modern Milieu?"

Brillante Ma. Mendoza's “Captive” may be a stunted assault on the twentieth century narrative proliferating in our post-post-modern milieu. However, the film’s attempt to bring forth a new hegemony seems problematic, especially if juxtaposed to a pseudo-historical reinterpretation to an otherwise complacent populace.  The film's political façade and its attempts at global re-positioning of a Third World event fall short if measured in classical symbolism and adventures with visceral leitmotifs.  This is evident by the forced infusion of an Anglo-American phenomenon of terrorist victimization.  The use of the physical topography as a device to push forward an unconventional and slow paced narrative works at times even though the devices seem trite albeit engaging and primeval. 

Mendoza may be pushing an envelope that had been opened in other centers of World Cinema, but this is still under subjective but empirical debate.  Some may even argue that he has resurrected or resuscitated nineteenth century Naturalism and reapplied and re-contextualized it in a post-colonial post-post modern Third World cinema.  Still, we cannot help compare “Captive” to Kukrit Kounavudhi's "Sankapate" and  Vladimir Pavel’s “Transit in Slovakia,” even though the latter interpolated nihilism in a disintegrating post-Berlin Wall context.

Bottom line, any interpretation of “Captive” may be futile given only a score of spectators in a cinema established by feudal money. [Anonymous Member of "The Movable Circle."]

For Review #2 and 3 (3/5)
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