Leonor Will Never Die15
Despite a thriving industry, films from the Philippines don’t often make waves on the global stage, with other countries in the region proving more popular. Right now for instance, one of the hottest markets in that region is South Korea, which is has been producing some incredible features of late.
There’s a good chance however that this inventive film from the Philippines, could certainly put them on the global map and create more attention for the film-makers there.
Getting rather forgetful in her old age is Leonor (Sheila Francisco), so it’s just as wee her son Rudie (Bong Cabrera) lives with her to help out.
She is a big film fan, which is no surprise as she used to be a famous writer of films back in the day. Now she’s not as involved as she once was, spending most of her time at home.
But after seeing an ad for screenplays in the paper, Leonor decides to work on one of her old scripts that focuses on a brother’s quest for vengeance.
It’s not long after she starts working on her script, that she gets involved in a freakish accident, that sends her to hospital in a coma-like state. The doctor tells her son that there’s not much they can do for her, but she’s seen this type of thing before; as a writer it’s down to Leonor to work out how best to return to the land of the living on her own terms.
Somehow acknowledging this, Leonor now finds herself within a perfectly formed version of her scripted world, and soon encounters her main protagonist Ronwaldo (Rocky Salumbides). But can she save herself in her own story?
There’s something wonderfully meta about Martika Ramirez Escobar’s directorial debut, with it being film within a film within a film. In fact it has the lofty ambitions of a Christopher Nolan film if not quite the same budget, as it messes with your head.
It’s presented in such a joyful fashion, with the dream/film sequences being a loving nod to theatrical crime films with over the top fighting sequences.
But then it’s also surprisingly layered, as it also reveals the implications of a death in Leonor’s family and the impact it had on them all.
As well as being meta in regards to film, it is a film made with love about the love of film. Escobar even makes a telling cameo herself, just to reinforce how utterly meta it all is.
It’s an incredible debut, showing a real raw talent for the art right out of the gate.
But as much as it straddles various realms and realities, it’s also a film that is bulging with fun. It never takes itself that seriously throughout, keeping the many stories it eventually juggles on the light side, making it a cheerful, joyful experience.
At its heart it’s a film about storytelling, and how powerful it is as a form of entertainment.
If this is the kind of fare that the Philippines is currently offering, the rest of the world should be all over it. And even if it’s not, they should be with Escobar’s fantastically inventive and creative film alone.