Film Review: Badil (2013)
By Patricia Simone Dauz
Badil, a political thriller which deals with vote-buying in the province of Samar, is much in Vera’s home court, since this writer’s specialty is dealing with sociopolitical topics.
Rody Vera, a celebrated theater actor and playwright, penned the screenplay of this opus directed by veteran Chito Roño. Vera, the head of Writer Bloc Inc. and former festival director of the Virgin Labfest, started churning out theater scripts as far back as the eighties, most of them Palanca-winning works. His first foray into screenwriting was the erotica Sisid starring Raymond Bagatsing, Assunta de Rossi, and Rodel Velayo.
Some of Vera’s thought-provoking films include, Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan had much to say about the hypocrisy of intellectuals and ill-fated revolutions. Requieme! satirized misplaced Filipino pride and is also aimed at politicians who’d do anything for a sanitized public image. Ibalong, his stage adaptation of an untitled Bicolano epic’s fragment of the same title, dealt with Filipino mythological creatures, but it also stressed the importance of respecting hierarchy and territory.
The film’s (Badil) claustrophobic vibe amidst the plush scenery of a village where many fisher folks reside is the perfect allusion to the situation of Lando (Jhong Hilario), who has no choice but to exercise an iron fist for the fulfillment of the family responsibility when his father, Mayor del Mundo’s political crusader, Ponso (Dick Israel), falls ill. The fishermen use dynamites to catch more illegally; the politicians have pagdidinamita, the local slang for paying off an electoral candidate’s supporter so that he/she will agree to bear the mark of an indelible ink, rendering him/her unable to vote. This involves winning people over to their side, even those who have been already paid in broad daylight, by hook or by crook. The Visayan word which is the film’s title actually means “gun”.
Roño’s restrained direction and eye for symbolism which gets under your skin was something new. One of the most memorable scenes here was when Mon Confiado (Batman) teaches a kid how to brew cappuccino, which is normally a forgettable scene except that in this film, that quiet moment feels the room with tension and one can’t help but feel if there will be a sudden flurry of gunshots with blood splattering on the walls.
Lando starts of as someone who is dutiful yet bereft of ambition. His attention is focused on his girlfriend, Jen (Nikki Gil), and their future. In contrast, Ponso, started off very strong and commanding, he only has to speak a few words and people shudder, ready to obey his command. He is very much like Don Vito Corleone of the Godfather, generous to his friends but ruthless to those who oppose him, more so to people who commit treachery. However, like Michael Corleone, Lando realizes that there are traditions one is bound to and cannot escape from. If there is a political dynasty, there is also a political crusader dynasty. A thousand cups of creamy cappuccino will never take away the pain his tainted souls.
What makes Badil work is that it doesn’t ram the prevarications down our throats. The precise syringe of the elusive machination behind our country’s murky river of political fishes that can be bought upon being caught injects the truth so deep in our skins that it really hurts so bad.