Once in a while, you get to see a beautiful story play out before your eyes. In this case, all your senses are piqued by an amazing film called Ang Larawan (The Portrait) a work of art by three of the Philippines’ best artists: Nick Joaquin, Rolando Tinio and Ryan Cayabyab.
The story is about a renowned artist and his family facing the many changes challenging each of the characters. It is the story of their ancestral house and its uncertain future in a changing world. And all of that is captured in a painting we can only see glimpses of but never the whole.
And that is where the fun is in this film. People’s lives can only be glimpsed in parts but the whole will sometimes surprise you. The film which deals with these people’s lives, on the whole, is a masterpiece. There are bits and pieces here and there that appear off: a song better left unsung (dialogue would have done); a miscast character; and a song line that is forced into the melody, but the film is so awesome these irritations quickly pass.
Before we saw the film, we heard that it was being pulled out of some theaters, which is unfortunate. This may be an artsy film but it is the artsy film people should see. That may be an elitist thing to say but this world needs more artsy films. It’s the kind of film that can make you reflect on your life and where you want to go with it. That we all need to do not only because a new year is just about to roll in but the world today just needs more thinking people in it. That is the challenge of the film: seeing the world as it is, do we have the guts to go against the world? Contra mundum.