Patay na si Hesus, almost entirely in Cebuano/Visayan, is a highly entertaining movie. Headed by Cannes 2016 Best Actress award winner Jaclyn Jose, it is a dramedy with a strong ensemble.
She and her dysfunctional family traverse the highway and nautical highway to get from Cebu to Dumaguete to pay their last respects to their estranged head of the household.
Director Victor Villanueva’s take on a road movie holds the audience’s attention because it has a finger on the Filipino funny bone: sometimes understated, sometimes lewd--even gross, as it tackles almost every possibly bodily function and excretion.
But at the core of the movie is a heart, beating furiously throughout its duration, helped by talented actors from Hubert (Vincent Viado), the eldest son who has Down Syndrome; Jude/Judith Marie (Chai Fonacier), a transgender man; and Jay (Melde Montanez), a seemingly directionless young man.
The script, co-written by Fatrick Tabada and Moira Lang based on Villanueva’s story, is sharp, witty, if sometimes stoking the line of common decency. But it is never completely offensive, we forgive some jokes that fall flat or are just too easy because the cast of characters is so endearing and we learn to like them and cheer for them.
Each member of the family needs to navigate, just as their orange mini van snakes through the roads leaving Cebu, their own struggles and issues. To the credit of Viado, Fonacier, and Montanez, they hold their own as they, individually and collectively, share the screen with veteran Jose. Even the adorable puppy Judas’ personality shines onscreen.
Mailes Canapi, who plays Sister Lucy, is larger than life in the few scenes as she inhabits her habit...then sheds it.
There are some instances of visual discontinuity, but are almost negligible to most viewers who will be too involved in what is happening in each scene.
Some translations (subtitles) fail to capture the dialogue or are plain inaccurate.
The product placements from numerous sponsors are strategic but obvious, and will make audiences chuckle in amusement. We salute local Visayan businesses for supporting the film anyway.
It is also very PC (politically correct). Hubert’s character is never ridiculed, and in fact, shows that people with Down Syndrome are quite capable. There are no jabs at homosexuality--reason why this film was cited for Gender Sensitivity during the 2016 QCinema Film Festival.
The cinematography showcases the natural beauty of Cebu and Dumaguete, making us long to eat some lechon with puso (boiled rice in banana leaves) and go swimming in the crystalline waters as well. Special mention must also be made of the editing that is snappy and precise: lingering on important scenes, and not, on those that have served their purpose. The art direction is also noteworthy: from scenes where it is important to have just the right visual cues like photographs, to props that seem incidental but turn out to be well planned.
Graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board, Patay Na Si Hesus is a funny film that will take the audience on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. And what a satisfying ride it is.
Patay Na Si Hesus is part of Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino of the Film Development Council of the Philippines. The film is being shown nationwide from August 16-22, 2017.
Ed's Note: The "PEP Review" section carries the views of individual reviewers, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial staff.