Humor in the face of abject poverty is a trait Filipinos are famous for. But despite the fact, most of our filmmakers tend to melodramatize it up. Nothing wrong with a bit of tears and the occasional bitch-slapping. However, an all-out tearjerker is a total crock because Filipinos would not have survived nor ballooned to a mind-boggling population. Just take a look at our newscasts and look for people waving at the camera in spite of a fires and floods in their background. So if foreigners find the humor of Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino, cruel or morbid or impossible then the people behind it should embrace the fact its local audience had a blast last night.
INTOY SYOKOY: expert tahong (mussels) diver; father died after catching his wife and her lover doing the deed; mother left him; in love with his childhood friend
DORAY LANGAW: hooker/fish vendor; sole breadwinner; mother left her; in love with her childhood friend
BERTONG BAKA: works in a terminal; neighborhood ladies’ man; deceased mother; lives with a jerk of an uncle
YEYE TIKOL: marine engineering student; dreams of working alongside his father
BOYET: phone snatcher; underwent spiritual transformation
Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino is a barkada movie set in a fishing town not in an exclusive subdivision. It is a barkada movie were gimmick nights are spent inside local girlie bars and street corner drinking spots not Tim Yapped-clubs. It is a barkada movie were drugs and booze are taken to make people forget their problems and remove the stink of sea not for fun or experimentation. It is a barkada movie were sex is a trade not a juvenile exercise. It is a barkada movie were young people have problems not confined to being misunderstood. It is a barkada movie were friends still fall in love with one another but without the cheesy love songs or surprise dinner dates. Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino is a barkada movie.
Lead actor JM De Guzman has been a Cinemalaya staple. This is his fourth film for the indie festival. The fast-rising young actor, currently headlining an afternoon soap, is one of the better performers of his generation. Blessed with matinee idol looks, the former Iskolar ng Bayan has the necessary acting chops serving him well in this film. Not to mention guts. It takes guts to dive the waters of Cavite.
Lead actress LJ Reyes is one of the better performers in the Kapuso stable of stars. Unfortunately, she is not getting the breaks she deserves and begs the question, what the eff. She literally shed her girl-next-door image to play a prostitute willing swap a few kilos of fix just to earn more for her siblings. She nailed it. No pun intended.
Another mainstream actor included in the cast is Joross Gamboa. Recently, he has been relegated to best friend-sidekick roles of the Ketchup Eusebio kind. But from what we have learned from numerous Star Cinema rom-coms, these roles are at most comic reliefs with little character development. As Bertong Baka, he chalks up another best friend-sidekick role but with better character development. His screen heartthrob plan did not pan out but he is charting a good course as a character actor. Completing the supporting cast are Arnold Reyes and Kenneth Salva, who played Boyet and the incredibly nicknamed Yeye Tikol respectively, were such hits, the audience lapped up all their humorous quips.
Speaking of humor, fans of Eros Atalia will be pleased to know the film is based on one of his short stories. After his popular novel Ligo na U Lapit na Me received a big-screen treatment in 2011, Atalia is back again in the indie circuit. Based on the reaction of the audience last night, his language and humor is a hit. Aside from creating amazeball character names, his blending of the comedic and the tragic is so deft, one hopes to take gin shots with his characters and assist them in drinking out their problems.
Like most indie films, this movie tries to inject social issues such as reproductive health and the difficulties of our overseas workers. Unlike most indie films, this movie does not force the social issues just to make it sound important. It comes up with amusing lines such as, “Ang taong magaling maglangoy hindi nalulunod. Nagmumukha lang tanga,” in reference to the failed suicide attempt of the lead character. Or it could be telling us as long as a person is alive, he should struggle to live and not lose hope.
One last thought: the last scene will bound to be controversial. I am not going to spill spoilers but just a mere reflection. I guess the scene is tragic. Not just because of the obvious reason but more of the idea of broken promises and lost opportunities. Then again it is also hopeful. Or some kind of perverse happiness.
MOVIE TRAILER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCH4ptHvUNo