Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. Philippines, 2004. Sine Olivia, Paul Tañedo Inc., Ebolusyon Productions. Screenplay by Lav Diaz. Cinematography by Richard C. De Guzman, Paul Tanedo. Produced by Lav Diaz, Eric Tanedo, Paul Tanedo. Production Design by Susie Alcantara, Poi Beltran, Blair Camilo, Maisa Demetillo, Joy Domingo, Patty Eustaquio, Cristina Honrado, Noel Miralles, Jun Sabayton, Rishab Tibon, Ava Yap. Film Editing by Lav Diaz. Toronto International Film Festival 2004.
Intimate and interminable epic film by Lav Diaz, one of the first to establish his uncompromising devotion to mammoth running times (in this case, a whopping ten and a half hours) that effectively put one in the position of living someone else’s life along with them. Atmospheric and delicate, the film is a difficult experience even if you break up the running time into chunks, devoted to that wonderful standard of arthouse cinema that emphasizes long shots and little biographical detail between the odd burst of plot movement that has you scrambling to remember its relevance to the overall narrative arc. It essentially concerns members of a farming family enduring the massive political changes in the Philippines throughout the late seventies and into the eighties. There are some impressive images despite the low grade of film stock being used, but even the most patient viewer who loves a challenge will struggle to get many rewards from something whose content is spread so very thin.