Everything About Her: Studio Fare as Feminist Manifesto (Film Review)
By Nonoy L. Lauzon/UP Film Institute
The film might as well be the production’s feminist manifesto and statement of corporate social responsibility. It is the film’s mission to inculcate in viewers the challenges that women have to hurdle and the sacrifices required of them to succeed in these times not just in their chosen career but also in the arena of home and abode.
There are many great things that can be said about Star Cinema’s current major motion picture release, Everything About Her. It is suffused with the acting prowess that has made Vilma Santos the country’s most enduring movie queen and all-time superstar. It is officially the biggest assembly of creative women power ever attempted in local filmmaking. Besides Vilma in the stellar role, it has the Santos sisters Charo and Malou for executive producers; Joyce Bernal at the directorial helm and Angel Locsin as the other lead. It has a ladies’ team behind its screenplay and even its cinematographer is female.
Surprisingly, the film dispenses with the traits of celluloid soap and has opted to tell its tale of cancer-stricken real-estate mogul in a straightforward trajectory – minus all the unnecessary twists and turns in plot development and doing away with overt sentimentalizing. Joyce’s roots as a film editor manifest all throughout, especially with both the opening and climactic sequences sparkling with dynamism and dramatic action characterized by the interplay and right balance of perk and grace.
It is somewhat a different Vilma that audiences would see in the film as director Joyce has done a good job in persuading the legendary actress to cut down on certain mannerisms that could have marred and gotten in the way of what is bound to be another sterling performance of her career. Vilma is ably aided by earnest efforts from co-stars Angel and Xian Lim, both of whom have managed to create chemistry with the screen veteran in each of the scenes they respectively share with her.
The cinematic devices and motifs the film employs to drive its narrative have given it much advantage. Particularly noteworthy is the symbolism of the chandelier that Vilma is shown to gaze at in one of the many heartfelt moments of quiet drama the film boasts of. The convulsion scene is carried out in a single take that only an actress of Vilma’s caliber could ever pull off with much aplomb. Vilma proves her comic mettle and efficacy in at least two scenes. One is the long shot of an open field with her voice heard clarifying with her staff the exact number of executive people she is about to have an exclusive meeting with. Another is the one upstairs at her residence as she confronts Angel’s character with the latter’s wrongly sent phone text referring to Vilma’s character as a creature from hell and a whore.
There is no doubt that the film has all the makings of a huge crowd-pleaser with its combination of high-level of filmic craftsmanship, disarming story of filial love and over-all entertainment value. It is the kind of film that people from all walks may savor for its imparted moral lessons that from time to time they are better off to learn if only for the sake of maintaining one’s sense of sanity and rectitude in life.
An early Women’s Month presentation and Mother’s Day treat rolled into one, the film has also been infused with the message of true altruism that goes beyond the terms and dictates of entrepreneurial philanthropy. That a strictly studio fare be embedded with such a message makes one wonder. Considering the nation’s state of affairs and social conditions for the longest time, it’s an occurrence that comes close to a miracle and must thereby be an instance in the realm of fantasy.