Image courtesy of www.en.wikipedia.org
Main Cast: Jaclyn Jose, Julio Diaz, Andi Eigenmann,
Director: Brillante Mendoza
Released By: Centerstage Productions thru Solar Pictures
Jacklyn Jose's exceptional performance as Ma’ Rosa Reyes could have been given more screen time. But as expected, amidst such a small flaw, she was able to deliver. How? It’s for you to find out.
Brillante Mendoza brings the story of a married couple who lives in a depressed shantytown. Rosa operates a neighborhood convenience store (locally known as sari-sari store) with her husband Nestor (Julio Diaz). They supplement their meager income by using their store as a front to peddle ice or “shabu” (a form of crystal methampethamine), an illegal substance, sold in sachet sizes.
Every centavo counts for the impoverished family. The couple maximizes everything in order to survive, renting out their karaoke set to neighbors for added income. They have every reason to as they have three children to feed, with one daughter Raquel (Andi Eigenmann) who they send to college.
Unfortunately, a neighbor tipped them off to the police.
On the eve of Nestor’s birthday, the police come rushing to their house to arrest them, taking several pieces of evidence. It is at this point that the movie reveals the ugly reality about the problem of drugs and the even uglier and more sickening truth about corruption in the local police hierarchy.
At the police station, the couple are interrogated. Totally disregarding protocol, Police Officer Lopez (Baron Geisler) asked Rosa and Nestor to choose: Jail time for the non bailable crime, or cough up 200 hundred thousand pesos to fix everything so they can be freed. The money of course goes to the pockets of the arresting officers. The ugliness has just begun.
The way the officers conduct the negotiations speaks a lot about how low these greedy suckers have become. They threaten the couple and have made every minute of their ordeal like a journey to hell.
“ Ma’ Rosa” reveals how small-time drug-offenders are hostaged by police extorting a payout. They ask Rosa about her cahoots so that they can milk them, too. Arrest cases are not recorded in the police logbook to conceal the deal.
The couple’s three children - Raquel (Andy Eigenmann), Jackson (Felix Roco) and Erwin (Jomari Angeles) are asked to help bail out their parents. They headed out quickly, keeping in mind the urgency of the task at hand. Beggars can’t be choosers and the circumstances by which they subjected themselves into to be able to produce the money can soften even the most callous and hardhearted out there.
Indie movie veteran, Jaclyn Jose, the beleaguered, hardworking mother Rosa proves to be the strength of the family. Isabel Lopez and Mercedez Cabral have bit roles, but their performances impact big time. Julio Diaz as a slouch man of the house fits him to a T. The stolid performances of the three actors playing the couple’s children seem to convey the children’s quiet endurance.
For the uninitiated and untrained viewer, you need patience and an open mind when watching movies like this. Be prepared for the unexpected, you may get bored or alienated with the film’s overall make up. But rest assured that every minute spent is knowledge gained.
With director Mendoza at the helm, from a screenplay of Troy Espiritu, Ma’ Rosa plays out more as a documentary than a story. Poverty and its ruthless depiction, its overall ugliness shot in one of the country’s poorest communities.
The film will move you by the injustice suffered by the destitute, the system by which the poor victims get victimized once more, where drugs mean poverty of life and a poverty of ambition.
The movie is timely as the new administration is hell-bent on eradicating these society’s menace, whoever gets hit – hook, line and sinker.
Ma' Rosa is a 2016 Filipino drama film selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. At Cannes, Jaclyn Jose won the award for Best Actress.
It also stars Baron Geisler, Mark Anthony Fernandez, Mon Confiado, and Neil Ryan Seseing – now showing in cinemas.