The recent 8th Cinemalaya Film Festival honored Mario O’Hara via a screening of Babae sa Breakwater as the festival’s opening salvo.
At the launch held at TriNoma Cinema, Laurice Guillen introduced the film to the media and to some digital film fanatics, saying Babae sa Breakwater was invited for screening at the Directors Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004, the only local film invited to the prestigious festival since Lino Brocka’s 1976 masterpiece, Insiang.
With Guillen’s words, expectations were high most especially from those who would be seeing the film for the first time. But that changed as soon as the feature was on the big screen. The cinematography is bad, the sound is terrible, the editing is equally horrendous, and the entire film is unmistakably of poor quality amid already being produced in 2004 (you might think it’s an old movie because it’s grainy and dark).
Yet, O’Hara failed to give justice to the dramatic and unfortunate plight of people living along Roxas Blvd. due perhaps to budget constraint.
Babae sa Breakwater is not a fitting title as well as the dragging film centers on the life of Basilio (Kristoffer King), who leaves Leyte only to end up in one of the slums of Manila with his younger brother Buboy (Alcris Galura). Basilio falls in love with Paquita (Katherine Luna), who started whoring so early in her life that at her relatively young age she’s already spent, reeking with sexually transmitted disease. Together, Basilio and Paquita dream of going back to Leyte to start a brand new life away from the unforgiving Manila slums.
If it had a better treatment, and O’Hara used a better camera with a top-notch sound engineer and cinematographer, the film would have been better. But then again it would be an entirely different film altogether.