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

La Visa Loca: Trail blazer in today’s local filmmaking

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Producer Tony Gloria has successfully put together a masterful filmmaker, director/writer Mark Meily and top stars as executive producers, Sharon Cuneta and Robin Padilla. The latter also stars in the film and creates a work that fully deserves the “A” rating of the Cinema Evaluation Board of the Film Development Council.

La Visa Loca is unmistakably a satire that has wit, sensible timing, good pacing and dialogue with crisp and spunk. The material delivers statement after statement on why and how Filipinos try to leave their country for greener pastures to capture that “American Dream.” The Filipino diaspora discourse has been thickened by this film, a popular culture form, which is a rare occasion in the Philippine film industry. It does not, however, leave an open ending to the story but instead boldly and bravely states the need to look at ourselves, to reflect at the Filipino mass migration. It deals squarely with the issue of broken homes and the lengths that Filipinos go through just to get that elusive US visa.

The images are new in the sense that the quaintly Filipino happenings are given explanation and are brought into the picture in a very different context… demystified and in fact critiqued.

Robin Padilla is Jess Huson who is a limousine driver just raring to go to America. Robin Padilla is able to sustain the interest of his viewers with his seamless pushing of the narrative, carrying his audience to laugh and shed tears. Robin’s sensitive portrayal of the dramatic shifts in his character is what brings us to that eventual heartwarming experience. His character, Jess Huson, has prepared himself for the trip abroad by finishing a certificate in Nursing Aid and Care Giving. His training comes in quite handy since his father, Mang Sancho, brilliantly played by veteran actor Johnny Delgado, is a diabetic and half-deaf wise-cracking character.

The Rufa May Quinto character is the weakest among the major roles. Rufa is certainly underutilized in the film. Her part seems to be an afterthought. The writing of her part does not bring out any true performance from this talented actress.

Mark Meily is an artist that moves and works his art based on a solid foundation. In this case La Visa Loca is based on his Palanca award-winning screenplay titled Good Friday Archipelago.

Attached to this La Visa Loca project is the trail-blazing way of filmmaking that is commercially viable and at the same time it is a film that makes sense. The production aspect is truly experimental and contributes to the many possible ways of coming up with filmmaking using the commercial film circuit for distribution. Today we are facing a crisis of having no new capital being pumped into a weakening film industry. The status of local filmmaking is caught in this transition stage where the theater circuit is still star-driven in terms of booking and showing of movies. But we know that filmmaking in the country is plagued with weak stories and screenplays to base films on. So, here is La Visa Loca making its way to the big screen with a very textured and solid material with a big star to boot.

Tony Gloria, Mark Meilly, Sharon Cuneta, and Robin Padilla hope for replicating the record of the highly acclaimed Crying Ladies also by the same creative team.

Congratulations to all the people behind this film. La Visa Loca works. — Gigi Javier Alfonso