I admit I was sucker punched by Ang Babae sa Septic Tank. And I loved every millisecond of it.
During the hour-long car ride to the CCP for the Cinemalaya 2011 screening of Ang Babae..., I was trying to predict how the film would play out. I was set on watching this comedy about a mother (Eugene) who ekes out a living by cleaning pozonegros and is suddenly discovered by a newbie film director. The trailer I watched didn't give out much, so I was curious.
Before the film started, writer Chris Martinez and Direk Marlon Rivera shared a few words of thanks to the people who starred in and supported the movie. They mentioned that the movie was about their experiences as indie filmmakers and that got me more interested.
The film is about three ambitious and well-to-do film graduates who spend a day of pre-production planning inside a coffee shop for their poverty-related film "Walang Wala."
We have Rainier aka Direk (Kean Cipriano), Bingbong the producer (JM De Guzman) and the quiet yet expressive production assistant named Jocelyn (Cai Cortez).
They have a meeting with actress Eugene Domingo (played by, yes, Eugene Domingo) for their first ever indie film and the decision on how their movie would play out has yet to be settled.
The audience is given an eyeful inside the mind of Jocelyn as she creatively interprets—in movie montage—Rainier and Bingbong's specific versions on how "Walang Wala" would look like.
It's amazing how Rainier and Bingbong argue about how the scenes would look like and which actors should star, and how situations would be presented—and all of these are automatically interpreted (and wonderfully edited!) inside Jocelyn's mind.
It's like watching movie(s) within a movie.
Actors Kean and JM and Cai, are natural and realistic in portraying their roles. Their enthusiasm in creating an award-winning indie film is immediately felt, and so is their love and dedication for the art. Kean and JM's exchange of wit is consistent. Meanwhile, Cai's facial expressions during her scenes reveal more than expected. Their chemistry is unique and their roles give an integral purpose to the progress of the film.
The special participation of veteran actress Cherry Pie Picache and Mercedes Cabral add humor to the already humorous movie. The transition and comparison between Cherry, Mercedes, and Eugene Domingo is one of the best scenes of the film. I can't explain more without giving away spoilers.
Once again Eugene Domingo proves her versatility as an actress. She gives no exaggeration in her roles, be it as a popular actress or a weary mother. Considering how I've already seen her past films, her acting style(s) in Ang Babae... just grabbed me senseless and I ended up picking myself up after rolling on the floor laughing.
One actor nearly stole the show. His name is Tad Tadioan and his scene with JM, Kean and Cai inside the coffee shop nearly gave me a side-splitting heart attack.
Direk Marlon Rivera and writer Chris Martinez deserve more than international awards for Ang Babae... Marlon's execution of Chris' wonderfully made script is flawless. The dialogue is as engaging as it is hilarious and the situations portrayed are well planned out. The editing is accurate and the cinematography is raw.
But most of all, it's the blatant take on the film industry (whether it be indie or mainstream) that tickles you in the ribs. Jabs to typically made movies like product placements, over-acting, out of place elements in certain story situations (poor woman is in makeup and blush on!?), adding uneccessary musical numbers and the most common issue among indie-film makers—budget—all get a good ribbing in this movie. Oh, the irony of it all.