Edward: Gambling with Lives Lost and Loves Gained

Gigi Javier Alfonso

Thop Nazareno taps into a quasi neo-realist approach with wit and drama in his film Edward. It is depressing, grim, distressed and is overcrowded with the impoverished and inlaid with ironic humor and with dark burps of commentary imbedded in its sequences. This robust film work captures the beat of public hospitals. The cramped space inside bursts with images and sounds which creates a casino-like atmosphere, where being in it becomes a whole gamble of whether one will live or die in its suffocating rooms and corridors.

It reminds us all of an old saying that is a glaring reality: that all of us shall die. To deny this is to merely distract ourselves from this obvious truth. Edward by Thop Nazareno brings us right in the middle of this raw reality. Bringing it right smack into our faces thus bringing out our frailty and our unpreparedness for loss of our loved ones. It is ironic that we are so used to celebrating life and setting aside death and the dignity of the dying.

Edward the film is about Edward, a young boy transitioning to an awakened young man exquisitely performed by Louise Abuel who is so well cast with his innocent face and demeanor. He is caring for his father (performed by Dido de la Paz, a veteran actor who as in many times before couldn’t have been better). Edward is first seen automatically and emotionlessly  going through motions and  gestural deeds and services as expected from a son but this eventually turns into a sincere concern and love for his father as the narrative moves on. His stepbrother Renato performed by Manuel Chua nonchalantly visits but eventually blurts out that their father was not worth caring for as he never cared much for him and his mother. At the same time Elijah Canlas, as his best friend Renz, brings in that believable youthful energy and friendship with Edward. The narrative also unravels Edward’s feeling of love for a young girl laden with so much experience from the city streets named Agnes (aptly played by Ella Cruz) which creates that vibe of connecting and being able to share the meanings of all that is going on their lives. She teaches Edward how to face loss in this life, that one’s life continues on, and that there is a need to accept and to move on.

Nazareno maximizes his space in this crowded area, the common ward,   ventilated with one electric fan, as he thickens the visual texture, tactile movements and even  elicits a suggestion of the sense of smell of stink. The crowded waiting area is echoed up to its smut and to the filth of its morgue. His cinematography awakens us through its gripping movement following the pace of those who have to traverse and hurdle the everyday lives of those who pass through the trials of being alive and being in the verge of dying. Through his lens we are witness as well, to the capture of the long pauses of anticipation and mourning.

The neglected hospital is a microcosm and analogy of a nation with an inept system run by insensitive administrators. In all this darkness and gloom, Edward by Nazareno triumphs. It is not easy. Yes! But it brings us this sense of a positive light emerging and some hopeful spirit beyond the tears and woes. . . that caring beyond oneself  makes us realize that individually we can contribute to make things better for all.

EDWARD (2019) Dir. Thop Nazareno. Screenplay: John Bedia, Denise O’Hara, Thop Nazareno. Production Design: Alvin Francisco. Cinematography: Kara Moreno. Editing: Thop Nazareno, BB. Joyce Bernal, JR Cabrera. Sound: Roy Santos. Music: Pepe Manikan. Cast: Louise Abuel, Elijah Canlas, Dido dela Paz, Ella Cruz. Producers: Cinemalaya, Viva Films, Outpost Visual Frontier, Awkward Penguin. Running time: 1:22:06

Back to MPP Reviews

%d bloggers like this: