Seasoned actor Roberto (Tirso Cruz III) and acting instructor Ellen (Sharmaine Buencamino) were married for a long time. They had a teenage daughter. But how come the wife did not learn of anything about the husband’s past, that he had a child prior to their marriage? That’s fiction, of course.
Laurice Guillen’s film opened the annual Cinemalaya Film Festival last Friday at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Theater. Titled Maskara, the full length feature tells an actor’s story unfolded through letters discovered by his wife forty days after he dies. The letters lead his wife, Ellen, on a journey into a life more private than that which he shared with his family and friends, and ultimately to a meeting with his secret daughter named Anna (Ina Feleo).
Instead of a documentary typed film, Guillen opted for a more cinematic feel giving Maskara, a tribute film to her late husband Johhny Delgado, a better treatment. The story itself is moving, and the way it is told echoes the director’s brilliance in storytelling. The actors are exceptional as well. Like what one of the memorable lines in the film states and I paraphrased in English, “Actors should not act, they should do it naturally.” Buencamino and Cruz essayed their roles unsurprisingly effortless effectively engaging the audience to their respective characters.
But there are things that Maskara failed to conceal. First, Maskara is definitely an indie film production wise. Though it was able to afford to throw in a big support cast that include Ricky Davao, Angelica Panganiban, Mark Gil, Liza Lorena, Fanny Serano, Rap Fernandez, Miles Ocampo, and Tirso Cruz’s children, to name a few, it’s obvious that the film has a meager budget. The texture of the film is inconsistent and the camera movements are distracting most of the time (can’t they afford a sturdy tripod?).
Secondly, there are scenes in the film that call for a reshoot like for example when a vendor handed Ellen a bunch of flowers. The eyes of the lady were disturbing, she was aware that the cameras were rolling and the movements of her eyes signify her being consciousness of the spectator during the shoot. Another scene that needs to be revised or cancelled altogether is a scene when one of the actors kept on repeating his line. If it is part of the script, that I cannot answer but it gives an impression that the actor was roped in to play the bit role for the sake of exposure.
Generally, Maskara is an affecting film. It deserves all the applause that it got during its first screening. Moreover, it can also be considered as Guillen’s best if not one of her better works as a film director. But like what I have mentioned, there are areas that still need great improvement. A film doesn’t have to always look cheap even if it’s an independently-produced because no matter how great a story is, and how brilliantly it is told, the lack of production value will always pull the whole effort down, unless your audience is a big fan of home-made video.