On Topel Lee's "Baklad"

by Richard Bolisay


▶︎ There are so many terrible things strewn in Baklad that at some point, instead of feeling offended, one just laughs at the inanity of it all. Everything feels out of place and sloppily put together, with the narrative being pushed forward but going nowhere meaningful, and the characters looking oblivious and acting clueless, poor souls made even poorer by the film’s condescension. The specificity of its milieu — a small community in Laguna where fish pens owned by a powerful, repulsive engineer are guarded by pubescent boys — could have worked to its advantage and turned it into a dynamic and thought-provoking drama, but the writing never allows it to evoke anything consequential, the crafting of the story shamelessly exposing outdated but still-appalling varieties of sexism and male chauvinism. The direction can only do so much, but the handling of the material is just as awful and amateurish, that instead of feeling sorry for the sad plight of the characters, one simply wants the misery of watching them to end. It is one of those cases in which someone tries to discuss social ills in the hope of bringing to light some important issues, but only ends up doing more harm by talking nonsense and being rude. ***


Richard Bolisay is a film critic. This was previously published on his blog Lilok Pelikula as part of "Dispatches from ToFarm Film Festival 2017 (Part 1)," July 17 2017.


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