If you’re looking for a movie that will serve up everything it’s trying to say in non-ambigious terms, you’re knocking on the wrong cinema door. While you probably won’t get lost in the grand scheme of things, there will be moments in ‘Dagitab’ when you may wonder just what it was you were actually watching. But it’s worth the trip.
GENRE: Drama, Love
DIRECTOR: Giancarlo Lauro C. Abrahan V
WRITER: Giancarlo Lauro C. Abrahan V
CAST: Nonie Buencamino | Eula Valdez | Martin del Rosario | Sandino Martin | Max Eigenmann | Ronnie Lazaro | Frances Makil-Ignacio | Roli Inocencio
Trailer | Facebook page
Perhaps the best way to describe Dagitab is: this is what happens when a poet makes a film. Dagitab (Sparks) was written and directed by Giancarlo Lauro C. Abrahan V, and in it, a married couple, Jimmy and Issey, struggles through the man’s obssession with a lost love and the woman’s involvement in a scandal.
Jimmy (Buencamino) and Issey (Valdez) are writing professors from the University of the Philippines, depicted in the movie as a bastion of intellectual pursuits. When the movie opens, Issey is congratulating a graduating batch and is rudely interrupted by a group of leftist students as she gamely finishes her speech. The next scene comes to Jimmy who is talking to a fellow radical about pursuing a decades-long book project about a legendary sundang (a bladed weapon) and a diety called Bulan.
Sparks appear to have faded in Jimmy and Issey’s relationship. We track their parallel journeys: Jimmy’s feverish quest to find Bulan, who appears to him as his old love, Lorena, and Issey’s personal struggle about what may or may not have happened between her and an impressionable young dude during a writing workshop. For two intelligent people, Jimmy and Issey go to strange lengths to be at peace with where they are. Eventually, the central question of whether Jimmy and Issey will find what they are looking for is answered, but the way the story is told is what makes this film special.
Abrahan favors wide shots, lots of silence, memorable lines, and several well-placed imagery that sometimes only makes sense in the recall. In one scene, the subplot about the sexual tension between the boy Issey becomes involved with and his roommate is locked in by a lingering shot of barbecue meat being grilled.
The beauty of the film is in how it lassoes us back and forth from kitschy moments of domestic real-ness, like the easy conversation of married people who have known each other for years, to dream-like landscapes of forests and beaches and the equally surreal events happening just beyond the viewer’s reach.
The film has to be poetic because it is a poem. It is a poem about love and loss and what strange things people can do to feel whole again, or at least fill up a void.
If you’re looking for a movie that will serve up everything it’s trying to say in non-ambigious terms, you’re knocking on the wrong cinema glass door. While you probably won’t get lost in the grand scheme of things, there will be moments when you may wonder just what it was you were actually watching. But it’s worth the trip. ♦