Brutus, Ang Paglalakbay (Tara Illenberger, 2008) March 11, 2009Posted by Richard Bolisay in Asian Films, Cinemalaya, Indie Sine, Noypi.
Written and directed by Tara Illenberger
Cast: Rhea Medina, Timothy Mabalot, Yul Servo, Ronnie Lazaro
If disgrace has a face, then it is worn by Brutus. Its insatiable ambition to cover numerous issues, from the budding romance of two young children, their neglected education, the illegal logging in rural communities, and the poverty in the province, to more pressing concerns such as the ongoing tension between the military and the armed rebels in the mountains and the civilians that get caught in the middle is admirable, if only they are not empty. One cannot help but be devastated by its world view, its simplification of life, and its shallowness despite its subject that screams of importance. Illenberger drowns her barely imperceptible narrative with details to wow us with depth and texture, but what it completely lacks are believability and significant criticism. There seems to be no effort to immerse in the lives of these people, or if she had, her film doesn’t show it. She doesn’t know them. She hasn’t even touched the crust of these issues, matters that are even more critical because this is a festival film, it should have been treated well, students and academicians are often required to see it. Thus, if we harbor on the intent, then what is there to argue? Should we always qualify its merits as an advocacy film? What complex dynamics is the Cinemalaya jury referring to? More so, should we deem it important only because it brings up social issues that are unfortunately misrepresented? From what it has consistently delivered from start to finish, Brutus feels like a mockery, something that always happens when an inept vision is poorly executed. This political narrowmindedness and cowardice is the last thing on earth that this country needs.