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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

When Secrets Aren't Friendly Ghosts


July 24, 2012, 3:02pm
Every friend has a secret. How long can one keep it? (Promotional photo)
Every friend has a secret. How long can one keep it? (Promotional photo)
At onset, “Mga Mumunting Lihim (‘Those Little Secrets’)” gives the impression of a “grand” film in that it boasts a stellar cast, primarily composed of mainstream thespians, and an esteemed director. But in truth, it’s an unassuming yet cleverly crafted story in homage to one of the most beautiful relationships in the world: friendship.
For a first-timer in the indie film scene, writer-director Joey Reyes brilliantly applies his expertise on storytelling and his keen sense of humanity to deliver a story that warms the heart and provokes the mind. He boldly presents his characters in their most human—they cuss if they're enraged, laugh as if it’s their last night on earth, work their arse off either for someone (including themselves), or they just had to because they feel lost in their own path.
Friendship tales may well be one of the most underutilized in cinema; well, at least locally—staples at the tills are usually the family-oriented, boy-meets-girl types of features. “Mga Mumunting Lihim” fills that void. Minute by minute, we couldn’t help but identify with Mariel (Judy Ann Santos), Carly (Iza Calzado), Sandra (Agot Isidro), or Olive (Janice De Belen). Are you the bossy type? The silent tiger? Dependant on others? Materialistic?
“Mga Mumunting Lihim” takes off unconventionally with a necrological service for the death of Mariel. As the film unfolds, Carly “inherits” Mariel’s box of journals. Little did she know that the accounts in the latter’s diaries would haunt them far worse than her ghost could ever have. Surprise, surprise: too much familiarity doesn’t guarantee a key to one’s deepest secrets or all-important trust.
Throughout the film, Direk Joey uses various storytelling techniques that takes viewers deeper into the intertwined lives of the four characters. He touched and tickled us in the right places and at the right time. The script brought to life no-nonsense women caught whether in moments of random musings, wild, public confrontations (the highlight of the film that will leave you laughing and applauding), or more poignant reflections on life, love, and loss.
In this film, we find Judy Ann, Iza, Agot, and Janice at their rawest and best. Four talented actresses with so much to give, yet there never was a moment that felt like we’re witnessing an acting showdown. And while it’s the first time we’ve seen them on the same frame together, their chemistry seemed so defined. It was as if they’ve been friends in real life since they were in kindergarten.
“Mga Mumunting Lihim” is part of the Director’s Showcase of the 2012 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival which runs from July 20 to 29 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Trinoma, and Greenbelt.

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