courtesy of ticketworldmanila
I’m always in awe of excellent acting, especially from veteran film and stage performers who effortlessly shine in their meticulous characterization of roles. Such is the case of “Nino” by Director Loy Arcenas (an established Broadway set designer-cum-theatre director). His casting boasts of the ever-regal but acting-reclusive Fides Cuyugan-Asensio who pits acting bravura with equally talented but always accessible (you always see them in GMA-7 teleseryes) Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino, Raquel Villavicencio and Tony Mabesa. You might wonder what the movie is all about. Here’s the sysnopsis, as detailed by the Cinemalaya website…
The once illustrious Lopez-Aranda family has faded. Celia, once the darling of Philippine opera, and Gaspar, a distinguished ex-congressman, lacked the shrewdness to maintain their once elegant status. Saddled with a failed marriage, a vanishing career and mounting debt, Celia sold her share of their house to Gaspar, now bedridden. She managed to stay for free in exchange for being Gaspar’s caregiver. Gaspar loves listening to Celia’s arias. This idyllic arrangement is shattered when he slips into a coma. His daughter, Raquel, comes home from the US, determined to sell the house to salvage her own economic woes abroad. This signals Celia’s impending homelessness. With only a few heirlooms to sell, she is at her wits’ end. A fervent believer of the Sto. Nino, she hopes for a miracle. She dresses up her grandson, Antony, in Sto. Nino robes to prepare him for the coming fiesta. She insists this will invoke a miracle that will awaken Gaspar and stop Raquel from selling the house. Antony’s father, Mombic, while processing his travel papers to work in Dubai, tries to strike a deal with Raquel in selling the property without his mother Celia’s knowledge. Merced, Mombic’s sister, reluctantly takes on the burden of taking care of Celia and a household sliding to ruin. The family members clash in a confrontation that reveals their weaknesses and their hopeless ideals. Mombic leaves his son to the care of his mother and sister, Merced, the only family member who quietly accepts her fate. As a final ditch to awaken Gaspar, Celia holds a tertulia, inviting her aging opera singer friends. They sing arias, oblivious to the ravages of time, crippled reminders of a glorious past. In the middle of a chorus, Gaspar quietly dies, sealing the fate of his sister and the mansion that once was called Villa Los Reyes Magos. Celia looks out into her once beautiful garden. She sees Antony, still in his Sto. Nino robe, playing in the garden, offering a little illusion of hope to a past that can never be rekindled.
I believe the role of Celia was tailor-made for Fides Cuyugan-Asensio, what with the character’s penchant for opera singing and the like. I also like the representation of the Sto. Nino in child performer Jhiz Deocareza while he is running around the old house with a wood sword and caped/crowned just like the Child Jesus. And in a family drama like this, you can’t help but be engrossed not only with the story, but with how differing personalities are fleshed out on the big screen. ‘Nuff said. I’m definitely queueing for this come middle of this month when Cinemalaya 2011 officially opens. And if you’re a true Pinoy film buff (or even mildly interested in watching some of the best underrated actors and actresses in Philippine cinema), you should too.
“Nino” is part of Cinemalaya’s New Breed section. Kudos in advance to the cast, director and crew because this one might just end up with more than a couple of wins come awards night. 🙂