“This is how we humans are: we question our beliefs, except those we really believe, and those we never think to question.”
the speaker quote from the dead by orson scott card, the sequel to ender’s game that now focuses on its protagonist who abandons the tactics of war to move from one planet to another to speak truthfully about the lives of the dead. dead, it could have given screenwriter welcome santiago a bit of purpose in paying homage to felix manalo, founder of Iglesia ni Cristo.
Reading: Felix manalo movie review
The film, directed by Joel Lamangan, is an expected adulation of a man who must have lived a much more complicated life than this nearly 3-hour self-proclaimed epic would have its audience believe.
life and death
The film begins with the birth of Manolo (Dennis Trillo). ends with his death.
In the middle is a hodgepodge of events that can be simplified into three parts, a man who begins to question beliefs, a man who clings to a belief he came to by divine intervention, and a man who does everything possible so that belief can never be questioned.
Of course, the tracks are tailor-made to delight their target audience, the stalwart members of the sect Manalo founded, with flowery language, generic drama, and a certain flash of self-importance, to the dismay of almost everyone else. . (see: dennis trillo as founder of inc in the trailer for the movie ‘felix manalo’)
In a nutshell, the film has an outline to show one man’s journey and his allegiance to a certain faith. See Manolo, as if he were modeled after Card’s fluid observation of humanity and belief, as someone who exemplifies that all-too-common facet of being human, pushing us from a point of uncertainty to unflinching determination.
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Unfortunately, the film highlights Manalo’s accomplishments over his more movie-worthy connections to the rest of us, making the film less of a penetrating exploration of a man of historical worth and more of a drawn-out publicity . It’s pretty unfortunate because there’s more to Manolo than the superficial pageantry the film offers him. (Read: How Dennis Trillo got the role of Felix Manalo in the movie Iglesia Ni Cristo)
lamangan here is little more than a paid craftsman, hired not for his political assertiveness but for being quite efficient. there is very little aesthetic perception in the film, except anything that furthers the goal of making the film appear to be true to its factual aspirations. everything, however, feels manufactured, from the props and sets that feel staged and spurious, to the performances that are drowned out by their airs of eminence.
Even rody lacap’s generally reliable cinematography is drowned out by an insistence on matching looks with the fact that the film is a period piece with obvious color desaturation. von de guzman’s score is grand and sweeping, as it should be, perhaps the only piece of the puzzle that fits the scope of the film’s misunderstood ambition.
lamangan’s artistic choices are woefully predictable. he overlays the film with all kinds of weight and gold, but he forgets to install the basic cornerstone of a proper epic, which is narrative clarity. It’s not enough that Santiago’s script is rabidly unbalanced in favor of promoting Manolo as irreproachable, LaMangan insists on painting the portrait with broad strokes of glib emotion and lavish propaganda.
Felix Manalo is confusingly episodic, sidestepping real conflicts with long-winded dialogue that has little narrative meaning. it leaps from era to era with wild abandon, trading logic and poetry for the ability to inject the most trivial information about manalo into the already staggered runtime. (Read: movie ‘Felix Manalo’ portrays the history of Iglesia Ni Cristo)
trillo manages to be a proper attention anchor throughout the film’s duration, even if his role requires him to mouth words in an ornate fashion. sadly, the film is severely overrun with glitter. it’s overloaded with actors and actresses appearing out of nowhere, stealing the spotlight from the film’s intentions with their pretty faces and prominence.
From this point of view, the film is a chaotic constellation of underused or completely useless stars.
Felix Manolo is quite an unwieldy pedestal for such a beloved icon. the film is stingy in its desire to sanctify its subject. it provides no opportunities for discourse except the immense one that its glamorous elaboration suggests.
If the film’s purpose is to illustrate, then it has failed miserably because it only persists in reinforcing an image that is too optimistic and romantic to be taken with the same seriousness as any other biopic with more balanced perspectives.
however, if the purpose is to remove a myth from the life of a man, then the film is only partially successful, because it only aspires to be understood and celebrated by that sector of society where doubt, suspicion and curiosity are frowned upon. -rappler.com
francis joseph cruz makes a living litigating and writing about film for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in theaters was Carlo J. the ‘tirad pass’ of caparas. Since then, he has been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema. fatcat studios profile pic
more about felix manolo’s film
See also: Simba (aka) Simbha review
- ‘Felix Manalo’ Movie Premiere Sets Two New World Records
- In Photos: Celebrities at ‘Felix Manalo’ Movie Premiere
- how dennis trillo got the role of felix manalo in the movie Iglesia ni Cristo
- the movie ‘Felix Manalo’ portrays the history of Iglesia Ni Cristo
- see: dennis trillo as founder of inc in the trailer for the movie ‘felix manalo’