The case of Mel Chionglo‘s “Lauriana” is a curious one; and I say this in the negative sense of the word. The film is ostensibly focused in provoking an indulgent sense of wonder and calm in its first quadrant, then swiftly changes to a dark, horrid one in its second. We see our protagonist Lauriana (Bangs Garcia); then as a woman filled with so much dreams, so much wonder, and now as a woman entangled with her abusive lover that is Samuel (Allen Dizon). It feels strained and tiresome a plot: the idea of witnessing Lauriana’s tragedy in the eyes of an innocent child Carding (Adrian Cabido) finds some power, but quickly dies down.
Perhaps, the picture feels treacherously bold, which isn’t even a terrible discourse. As I mentioned, the film feels curious, and curiousness sometimes earns a film additional glory, and other times, more frequent than not, this tampers with the film’s true pursuits. Perhaps the film is, more accurately, clueless than curious, finding a terribly cluttered latter half. We meet a grown-up Carding–portrayed by Victor Basa–living the life in the urban Manila; cooped still in his dark, haunting childhood. It’s not a total junk of an idea, really, but Chionglo’s laborious use of it–those nauseating, pointless, scatterbrain flashbacks–ultimately puts it to waste.
Bangs Garcia’s willful portrayal makes an interesting watch, and a revelatory one, too. The situation though, is that the perceiver watches it in a theater screen, and her frequent “soapy-ness” feels terribly out-of-place. Her “bigger” commodity–that of her body–and Allen Dizon’s dreaded sense of detachment to his character, ultimately fail to create a certain connection. But then, in the first place: what’s there to connect? They give us very little to care for and in result there’s very little part of us that ache when blood spurts in the air instead of sparks. We feel for Carding and Carding only, his little soul savagely torn, just by seeing everything. Cabido isn’t a very good actor yet, though he shows a significant range; Basa, as his elder counterpart, doesn’t feel right for the part. To cut it short: most of the acting lacks punch, with the “needle in a haystack” exception of Angeli Bayani’s (“Ilo-Ilo”) as Carding’s aunt. In her sparing screen-time she shines.
I recall in particular a scene in which she whispers very faintly to a chicken, of which neck she gushes and body she plucks clean to cook. She tells to Carding: “All living things must not be hurt,” to which he replies, talking about the chicken: “But you already hurt him.” She tells him that it’s a different case as she has asked permission to do it. This particular scene promised a better film, but sadly, never surfaced. It’s worth a look, in the end, depending on how less one takes is enough.