Move Review: Hiblang Abo

Directed by: Ralston Jover

Main Cast: Lou Veloso, Jun Urbano, Leo Rialp, Nanding Josef, Matt Daclan, Lui Manansala, Flor Salanga, Cherry Malvar, Angela Cortez, Mike Liwag, Rommel Luna, Rener Concepcion, Anna Luna

Synopsis: “Hiblang Abo” speaks volumes of muted memories and infinite struggles among four men in their twilight years, confined in a hospice facility or home for the aged. Their gray hair grows and fades unnoticed, their lives enter the void of oblivion. Everything unfolds so naturally into their swan song until their body pains and heartaches yield the same intensity, when their hearing and their feelings become permanently impaired; and when their blurry vision and memories become “clear” signs that the inevitable state of death is as fleeting as the vibrancy of life itself. (Cinemalaya)

This film was my first for this year’s iteration of Cinemalaya. I just read the synopsis and thought that it might be an interesting story. I came out from CCP’s Little Theater confused, tired, and a bit bored.

First thing off, the film is a bit too dark, literally. There are a handful of scenes when I really had to squint just to see what is happening. Is it meant to mean anything, to invoke a subtle message? I am not sure, and if it does, I obviously do not get it.

The story itself is also a bit too dark for me. How can everything like that happen in a place where people are either trying to remember what used to be good or forget a bad past? I only learned that it was an adaptation of a 1980 play when I researched about it after the screening. That explains the storyline and flow for me. I feel like the story works better when performed live.

The movie won’t be in my top 10 Cinemalaya films I’ve watched, but the performances of the actors are still worth your time, I think. It can also be that the movie is just too deep (and too dark) for me. 🙂

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