On review: Lola

Lola (Grandmother)

"Lola" is directed by Brillante "Dante" Mendoza, a Filipino director, who was named the Best Director at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival for his film "Kinatay". This film competed at the 66th Venice International Film Festival, and then winning the Best Feature Film at the 6th Dubai International Film Festival.

This film features the story of two grandmothers: Lola Sepa (played by Anita Linda), and Lola Puring (played by Rustica Carpio). It was set at the capital of Philippines, the city of Manila.

Lola Sepa is struggling to raise funds for the burial of her grandson, who was a victim of robbery and homicide. Aside from the problem to pay for the funeral and burial expenses, it was also a puzzle on how they would set the funeral at their home, which is situated in a perpetually flooded village. Adding to that problem is their difficulty in filing the charges for the suspect that killed her grandson.

On the other hand, Lola Puring is trying her best to visit her grandson at the prison, charged with robbery and homicide, which is the suspected killer of Lola Sepa's grandson. Lola Puring is a vegetable vendor, and she tries every way possible to earn to help in the case of her grandson. A public attorney advised them to seek for an "amicable agreement", in which she would pay the family of the slain victim in cash. To attain this despite having a son who is ailing with a disease, is another dilemma for the family.

Director Dante Mendoza showed the real face of Manila. The pollution, poverty, the struggles, people trying to survive and having the will to look forward to tomorrow despite the setbacks in life.

This film might seem to look depressing at first. Given all the problems at this intertwined mess. But the heroines of the film, both two old female leads, showed that despite the improbability, they showed their spirit and will to do whatever it takes to reach their goals. It shows how strong the familial affinity of the Filipinos, that gives values of the respect and love for the family member. This film showed images of the culture of the Filipinos of the strong belief to their religion. Being Catholics, even if there is not much to give, the family of Lola Sepa will uphold tradition and the proper rites for a departed loved one.

The movie was shot in real time. It may appear to be a slow-dragging transition as it follows the main characters of the film, but it amplifies the story of the characters: slow, dragging, old, struggling, yet still moving.

As Director Mendoza sums it up, over-all this is his inspirational film. That given the circumstances of life, the difficulty, the struggle, and the pain that we have to go through, we still have to move on.

That spirit and will to fight and to survive is a strong message in "Lola".

And that will never get old.

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