The society of respected film critics that hands out the annual Gawad Urian in cinematic excellence

Blue Moon: On the road with romantic men

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We always are happy to take note of films that are grounded on Philippine experience. Blue Moon, produced by Lily Monteverde for Metro Manila Film Festival and directed by Joel Lamangan, is one of the films that can be noted as part of the attempts of film artists to come up with a technically well made work and at the same time concern themselves with content that gives insight to how people try to solve their problems as they go through life in a complex society. It shows Filipinos specific and particular experiences, as it comments on social realities like war, separation and alienation. It talks of human weaknesses that bring out hesitation and even betrayal. But likewise, it celebrates love and life.

I have my reservations about fully succumbing to that state of “suspension of disbelief” because the men have been positioned as very sensitive and hopeless romantics in this film. I really have mixed feelings about materials like these. How I wish that this was reality and that the state of the psyche of Filipino men was as faithful as the men in “Blue Moon.” I still will have to continue researching on the real state of Filipino men’s dominant attitude of having girlfriends and mistresses in addition to their wives. If this is really dominant then the men of Blue Moon may be just make-believe characters in a romantic film that is not in touch with reality. But as I earlier said in terms of mixed views… giving space to most probably rare stories of men like these is likewise worthwhile… It inspires men to give value to such views about men who are faithful and sensitive.

Director Joel Lamangan has successfully put together seamless cinematography and well-studied editing to create this work that is structured and based on the Palanca Award-winning heart-warming screenplay of Alan Tijamo. The story is anchored on a journey that brings together a grandfather, father and son as they take a car that breaks down every now and then in a long road trip. It centers on the story of the grandfather’s search for his true love. As the trip goes on the story of the three men are revealed through flashbacks, dialogue, moon as visual motif, and particularly the song “Blue Moon.”

It is a brilliant approach to take the road trip as the film’s actual time and the many other stories are born out of this road trip which makes the screenplay manageable and focused on the stories of these three men but anchored on the idea of the search.

Eighty-three-year-old Manuel Pineda (Eddie Garcia) is the grandfather who has been diagnosed with lymphoma giving him a few months to live. He wants to use his remaining days to look for his beloved Corazon. His grandson, Kyle (Dennis Trillo) is touched by his grandfather’s story and decides to help him find the woman he is looking for. Rod (Christopher de Leon), is eventually involved in the search that takes them to Baguio, La Union, Bicol, Albay, and Cebu. It is not only a search for Corazon but a search for themselves. The three of them become close to each other and it becomes the opportunity to answer questions of relationships that have been unanswered for many years. It is a growing-up experience for all of them.

Our three male characters are effectively performed by Eddie Garcia, Christopher de Leon, and Dennis Trillo. Eddie Garcia gives a subtle and sometimes understated performance that I truly appreciate. There are many silent moments in his performance that shout inner tension and makes it all the more outstanding. Christopher de Leon’s performance is also memorable as the person who is not truly convinced about the whole idea of accompanying his old father to look for the woman who he doesn’t even know whether she is his mother that his father is looking for. He shows vulnerability as he remembers facing the death of his loved one. Also delivering a good, mature performance is young actor Dennis Trillo as the grandson who has his own problems with his wife. It has to be mentioned that Mark Herras as the young Manuel is splendid and effective.

The women actors of Blue Moon are most competent in fact rather then ourstanding. Boots Anson Roa comes very real as the older Corazon. She fits the role to a tee. It is a pleasant surprise that Jennylyn Mercado as the younger Corazon and Pauleen Luna as the other Corazon deliver commendable performances. And these young women have very strong screen presence.

The performances are given the appropriate boost by outstanding cinematography. The lighting and camera work of Lyle Sacris must likewise be noted. It brings out the needed changes in mood, time and local which add to the well-executed production design. Watch Blue Moon for its well-textured performances that are indeed a credit not only to the individual actors but to Joel Lamangan who’s an actor’s director who brings consistency and evenness to the performances of his actors. — Gigi Javier Alfonso