On Byron Bryant's "Sinandomeng"

by Richard Bolisay

▶︎ One might crack up to find out that Sinandomeng isn’t exactly about the rice variety most Filipinos are familiar with — it does not even show the rice being planted or harvested — but the combination of the names of its two characters, Sinang and Domeng. Yes, facts only. Recently widowed, Sinang takes over the farming of a small patch of land inherited from her father, Domeng, who is confined to a wheelchair. The film is heavy on heroics, especially as Sinang refuses to sell her part of the farm to real estate developers, and as she assumes the role of being the head of her family. The narrative goes in several directions: the argument between sisters about whether to sell the land out of practical reasons or to keep what their father has given them, the noticeable lack of men in the community doing farming, the old-fashioned act of sacrificing blindly, the sadness of old age, the beauty of kundiman — but nothing really holds up. Nothing takes the film out of its colorless depiction. Worse, its idea of humor is to include a gay character as comic relief, and its idea of romance is to have a man hit on Sinang as soon as her husband dies. It could definitely use some modicum of sensitivity to help it deepen its characterization, or perhaps some better writing to give its story more flesh. ***

Richard Bolisay is a film critic. This was previously published on his site Lilok Pelikula under "Dispatches from ToFarm Film Festival (Part 2)" July 20 2017.