Movie Review: Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay

I guess the life of a movie extra is indeed both sad and hilarious. You are not the star. You get strapped in a chair while industrial fans attempt to make you look like a horrific mad ghost. You work hard. You become a horror staple. You work harder. You earn lines then it end up in the cutting floor. You hope for another project but the calls do not come. You get another project but this time it is different. You are not going to be an extra in horror film. You are going to be the lead character. You are the star. You are provided a script. You get documented. You get a terrific movie poster. You get a terrific movie trailer. You are part of an indie film fest. You receive a nomination as a lead actress. You win. You go on a campus tour. You see people lining up. You see a full-packed theater. You hear applause. You hear more applause. I guess the life of a movie extra is indeed both sad and hilarious.

Must be the poster. Must be the title. Must be the trailer. The moment I caught a glimpse of it, I knew am going to see this. Losing hope because I was not able to catch the Shang screening, a Cinema One Originals campus tour made it possible to realize this wish. Choosing over a chance to see David Beckham, I watched the first starring role of the most historic movie extra in local cinema.


I do because am a huge fan of the old Shake Rattle and Roll series.

This is the first question thrown to men on the street and some actors at the start of the film. None of them recognizes the name. Quite shocking, since it includes Kris Aquino who co-starred with her in Shake Rattle and Roll. “Ako ang bida doon kasi ang title, Ang Yaya,” Lilia quips. With that, she sends the audience in a chorus of laughter.

LILIA CUNTAPAY had us in the palms of her iconic hands.

She dons a pair of sunglasses and people find it funneh. She lists names for her acceptance speech and people find it funneh. She reacts at the exorbitant prices at a popular coffee shop and people find it funneh. She rehearses her precious lines with her assistant and people find it funneh. She sketches a movie poster co-starring Chuck Norris with her name in bigger font size than the action star and people find it funneh.

I am not sure if it is correct to use funneh but am seeing a number of friends describe humorous retorts and incidents as fun-neh. So there. Fun-neh.
Yes. LILIA CUNTAPAY can reduce Chuck Norris to a mere doodle and people will find her adorable. You are no longer the man, Chuck. You are no longer the man.

This fact-fiction mash-up film is both an homage and a love letter to LILIA CUNTAPAY. Toiling for decades as an extra, she gets her chance to take the lead in perhaps, one of the most entertaining movies in the past decade. The approach reminds me of another indie, Mga Anak ni Brocka, wherein it also blends fact and fiction interspersed with interviews and video clips. Similarities end there because Six Degrees of Separation is far better. (Considering the subject matter, the fiction part of Mga Anak ni Brocka felt too manufactured when it could have concentrated on the interviews, which are both amusing and enlightening. Plus it is too long. So I applaud the strong directorial hand of Antoinette Jadaone for creating a solid and engaging film.) This movie benefits from an interesting premise, LILIA CUNTAPAY is nominated for best supporting actress for the first time and a filmmaker documents her ride to a possible acting triumph. But it benefits more from its inspired lead star.

This is all about LILIA CUNTAPAY. She made us laugh and she made us shed tears. It is not all hilarious snaps for there are all also poignant scenes such as 1) her not being permitted to use the portable toilet 2) her long distant relationship with her daughter 3) her constant inquiries if someone calls her for a project 4) her crumpling of the supposed speech and 5) the non-inclusion of her interview in a primetime news program. The last one is both sad and hilarious because she prepared food and VIP seats so that her neighbors can watch her interview but some idiot edited her in the final report. Deft balancing of the humorous and the heart-breaking characterizes this film. Something mainstream comedies should learn. That and loads of ORIGINALITY. It helps a lot LILIA CUNTAPAY is an original.

Films like this are an indication Philippine Cinema is far from dead. No. It is not dead because LILIA CUNTAPAY is rockin’ it like a mad ghost.


Note: separation of KEVIN BACON and LILIA CUNTAPAY

KEVIN BACON co-starred with JACK NICHOLSON in A FEW GOOD MEN who co-starred with LEONARDO DI CAPRIO in DEPARTED who co-starred with CLAIRE DANES in ROMEO+JULIET who co-starred with LILIA CUNTAPAY in BROKEDOWN PALACE.

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