Barber’s Tales a Simmering Story That Explodes in a Volatile Situation
Director Jun Robles Lana, long a successful TV director in the Philippines, garnered international acclaim with his breakthrough film Bwakaw, a character study of a 70-year-old grouch who spends more time preparing for death than living life. The only living being that accepts his insufferable temperament is a stray dog who eventually becomes a supportive fixture in his otherwise solitary existence.
In Barber’s Tales Lana once again explores the character of a person set in their ways at mid-life who undergoes a series of life-changing experiences. This story, set amid the political turmoil of the brutal dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970s, features the beloved actress Eugene Domingo in the lead role of Marilou. The stoic Marilou is the wife of Jose, the male chauvinist village barber, a man who has treated her for years as more like a servant than a spouse.
Childless since the death of their only child years ago, they are a gloomy and unhappy couple. One night after a drunken binge of liquor and whoring Jose sudenly dies in his sleep. Marilou is afraid she’ll have to move to the city and become a maid in order to survive. But the local priest (Eddie Garcia) encourages her to keep the barbershop open using the haircutting skills her husband taught her. She turns out to have a gift for the scissors, and the region’s wealthy mayor (Noni Buencamino) soon becomes her biggest fan.
Though wanting only to live a quiet life, Marilou soon finds herself caught between two conflicting sides. First godson Edmond (Nicco Manalo), who’s supposedly on vacation from the university but in fact has been involved in some dangerous secret activities, asks her to hide a wounded comrade, then to let other local rebels hold secret meetings at her shop. She’s also befriended by Cecilia (Iza Calzado), the mayor’s beautiful but unhappy wife. The mayor has been generous to Marilou, but she discovers a different side to his character from his abused spouse. Her submissive personality becomes quietly transformed as she gains confidence and is soon fostering sisterhood among the women in her rural village. Before long, she gets pulled into helping rebel forces.
Revolving as it does around Eugene Domingo’s character, this film is an opportunity for her to show her full range of skills and carry a film. She was hailed Best Actress at the 26th Tokyo International Film Festival, where it had its world premiere before coming to Abu Dhabi, where audiences will have the opportunity to see Domingo and Lana in person. The victory in Tokyo was Domingo’s second international accolade after she received the People’s Choice Award for Best Actress for her performance in The Woman in the Septic Tank at the Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong in 2012.
*Director Jun Robles Lana, Producers Ferdinand Lapuz and Tonee Acejo and Actor Eugene Domingo
Second screening: Fri 11/01/2013 21:00 VOX6