Last Supper No. 3: Smart potshots at courts of law
By Butch Francisco
GIVEN the long, long list of films released in 2009––what with that avalanche of indie movies––there were only three comedies (at least, the ones of note): “Ded na si Lolo,” “Kimmy/Dora,” and “Last Supper No. 3.”
Directed by Veronica B. Velasco, “Last Supper No. 3” (which Velasco co-writes with Jinky Laurel) begins during the pre-production phase of a shoot for a corned beef TV commercial. Since the setting is in the dining room of a typical Filipino home, there are at least two requisites that would give the place the Pinoy look: The oversized matching pair of wooden spoon and fork from Baguio––and a framed image on canvas or tapestry of The Last Supper.
The film’s lead character, Wilson Nanawa (Joey Paras), playing an assistant production designer assigned to that shoot, goes to an overpopulated community and organizes a casting call for a Last Supper that would be used in the commercial. It is not exactly a posh neighborhood and practically every household rips the framed Last Supper off their dining room wall for a chance to get paid P1,000 (if it is their entry that is chosen)––plus the pride, privilege, and pleasure of showing to the world their home décor in an advertisement.
A mother-and-son tandem, Suming and Gareth Pujeda (Beverly Salviejo and Jojit Lorenzo), takes a shot at it and their Last Supper gets in the final selection and is tagged as Last Supper No. 3 for labeling purposes. In the end, however, it gets eliminated––and, horrors, gets misplaced by Joey’s assistant, Andoy Pamatid (JM de Guzman).
Since Last Supper No. 3 couldn’t be located, Wilson tries to rectify the situation by offering P1,000, except that mother and son turn out to be tough customers. Their Last Supper tapestry has sentimental value––so they claim. It was a gift from Suming’s Saudi Arabia-based brother. (“They make Last Supper pieces in Saudi?” – somebody asks with incredulity, taking into account that this Middle Eastern nation is strictly Moslem.) Their asking price: A discounted P25,000.
In the beginning, they try to settle the issue on the barangay level––with the two parties eventually coming to blows, literally, and a case of serious physical injury is added to the estafa charges.
Ignorance of the law later also brings all parties down judicial hell and the rest of the film illustrates how life can drastically change for anyone slapped even with the simplest lawsuit in this country because there is something terribly wrong with our legal system.
Compared to “Kimmy/Dora” and “Ded na si Lolo,” “Last Supper No. 3” is not your laugh-out-loud type of comedy. “Kimmy/Dora” and “Ded na si Lolo” elicit more laughter and are much more fun to watch because of both films’ in-your-face humor.
“Last Supper No. 3,” however, is the most polished of all three comedies. Unlike “Ded na si Lolo,” which is a technical nightmare, Last Supper boasts of an outstanding production design (by Mic Tatad and Giselle Andres)––and that should be expected of this film given the premise of its story (about the concerns of movie/TV workers whose job description is primarily to find the appropriate location and the correct props for an onscreen project). Also notable is the film’s scoring (by Dan Gil) that helps give more life and excitement to the movie’s narrative.
And while “Ded na si Lolo” delves into the traditional Filipino culture (mostly superstitious beliefs) on the manner we give our final respects to our dearly departed, “Last Supper No. 3” comes forward to parody the continuously rotting judicial system in the Philippines. It is the one with the more societal significance and relevance and goes all out to picture so graphically the social illness that is bureaucracy and red tape that have always plagued this Third World nation. “Lola” and “Himpapawid”––two other brilliant film works in 2009––also tackle in parts the useless routine of complying with the often senseless guidelines set by government offices. But it is “Last Supper No. 3” that meticulously weaves into an entire tapestry the joke that has become of our courts of laws.
The writing of “Last Supper No, 3” could use more laughs (the way “Kimmy/Dora” did), but much appreciated are the little details thrown into the script––like this peek into how food products are made to look more appetizing for the benefit of the camera. I swear you’ll never buy the merchandise if you see how it is being handled off-cam by production people.
The writing tandem apparently did their homework and research to be able to put this material together and present it in the most realistic possible manner on the big screen.
Aside from begging for change in the way our men in robes run the country’s legal system (that they allow postponements, delays and other legal tactics to wear down one of the parties is so unjust and absurd), the film also gives valuable pointers in life. One is to be more diligent when carrying out responsibilities: You just don’t lose any material possession that you are entrusted with because you may just meet your match.
In the story, Gareth turns out to be such formidable opponent. The more vulgar has a term for him: Prick. As Lorenzo so colorfully depicts him, he is unbearable, a major pain to deal with and it is best not to have anything to do with him in this life and even in the next.
“Last Supper” also reminds the viewers to stay out of legal tussles as much as possible because of the hassles, inconvenience, and expenses involved when attending court hearings. Both Joey Paras and JM de Guzman play out the scenarios so convincingly that we wouldn’t want to trade places with them at any point in our lives.
If you don’t want to be a victim of corruption (starting with the lowly clerk who will not bother to lift a finger and be of service unless you grease the very palm that draws its salary from the taxes we pay), of judicial malpractices and other types of harassment attached to the system that is supposed to protect us if only it weren’t so deficiently structured and enforced, the film tells you to stay out of legal trouble.
One unlawful misstep and you may soon be sitting down to what could be your last supper.