Film Review: Mauban: Ang Resiko (2014)

Screengrab from Youtube.

“Mauban: Ang Resiko” feels like a peek to an anthropological experience. The viewer is an outsider, immersing oneself in a rural community. The film paints the town of Mauban not as a place of dreams and aspirations, but as a place striving for sustainability. The film is not really as alienating as its title. “Resiko”, according to the intro, is a part of a salary that is set aside for a treat or blow-out (fun, leisure or recreational activity). In the case of Mauban’s doomed main characters, it’s drinking.

A family in Cagbalete island ekes out their living through wine-making, fishing and charcoal-making. Matriarch/widow Susan moonlights as a resort masseuse. Her second son Junior is into lapu-lapu fish-raising, while her daughter Lota and husband Dudut are into wine-making. A daily fare, ‘resiko’ treat has become a threat to the family’s fight for survival. (Philippine Star)

For a significant amount of time in the film, there is a sense of waiting for the conflict to arise. The film feels ordinary–it is more of an observation of a culture rather than an attempt to tell a multi-layered story. But the conflict is not missing; it is an element that is constantly present– how drinking habits affect the main characters’ way of living.

The film presents this with a comedic timing (and rightfully so because the drinking culture of the Mauban people have to have some explanation and does not deserve a half-baked negative judgement). The husband and wife Dudut (Jess Mendoza) and Lota (Alessandra De Rossi) are terrible human beings, 20-something parents who haven’t left the essence of their youth. They are dependent on pautang and too lazy to accept opportunities. They are aware though of how unproductive their indolence and complacence can be, but because of their immaturity, their self-reflections on life are temporary. It fades into the background once they get wasted.

So watching these awful characters is just okay (because it’s funny), but it gets boring when you’re just waiting for them to be redeemed and how. In contrast to their do-nothing attitude is Lota’s brother Junior (Sid Lucero) and mother Susan’s (Bing Pimentel) tireless auras. He fishes and she works at a massage. Junior, specifically, has a conflict of his own; he’s a heartbroken man trapped in his past. He escapes through fishing as a means of survival. His story, however, is not fleshed out. At some point, he feels like a secondary character–irrelevant and whose motivations are the least concern of the audience. So we don’t completely attach ourselves to him.

When the film finally presents its problem to move forward, it feels contrived. The resolution is also fast (start of spoiler–the mother dies and the alcoholics become better people because of that–end of spoiler), and overall, it feels like it could have been more interesting despite its generally unhurried treatment. Nonetheless, the lead characters are a pleasure to watch. The viewer’s standpoint as an outsider to the film is achieved because the actors portrayed the characters with a strong sense of familiarity to the town they belong to (e.g. the accent of the characters and how they interacted with the minor characters who also played as people of Mauban). The ending, most importantly, is realistic to endure–it does not paint the redeemed characters as perfect; just less troubled.

Rating: 3/5

[PROMOTION: I’ve watched this film at the 2nd floor of the library of UP College of Mass Communication. They offer a wide selection of films as early as 1950s and as late as early 2015. On the second floor is a viewing room. There are four TV sets for individual viewing (one per cubicle of course, and you can hear the sound via headset so you don’t disturb other viewers), and one TV set for group viewing (there’s another room for that). The available films are not listed on ILib, so you have to go there. The DVDs/CDs are room-use only and are for UP students with validated ID.]

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