Friday, February 22, 2008

The Bet Collector (DVD)

It is really hard to classify this film. It has a plot but it is not the most important element. It seems to be character-driven but there is no katharsis especially on the part of the main character, Amy.

I will try my best to describe the movie because it is ironically a Herculian task for such a small production. There is an illegal numbers game in the Philippines called "jueteng". Gina Pareno as Amy is a well-liked bet collector (or kubrador in Tagalog) who is always looked after by the spirit of her dead soldier-son. It shows three days of her little and arguably insignificant life.

Gina PareƱo is brilliant as a secretly grieving mother and she takes all the peopleunder her care. She is very sympathetic although not quite immaculate. The small community she lives in is very typical in Manila and I am sure many of the extras are real residents.

The director is wise in his choices: hand held-camera giving the actors freedom to move around and not think of its presence and long languid scenes that enables to viewers to feel at home in the narrow alleys.

The DVD is only a single-layer disc with no subtitles that I bought in Manila but the picture quality is great and the sound very realistic as it was recorded live. I am sure this will be a movie that will be enjoyed by many Filipinos for generations to come.

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