Panoorin ang ‘The Trial.’ It’s original, intelligent, honest, and gripping. Pinagsama-sama ang magandang kuwento, magaling na acting, at technical achievement sa isang pelikulang napapanahon.
SYNOPSIS: A video of Ronald, a mentally-challenged young man, seemingly raping Bessie, his teacher, spreads on the Internet. A legal battle ensues as Bessie’s aunt, who owns the school, works to protect their family’s reputation. Ronald and his unconventional family seek the help of a couple whose marriage has fallen apart since the death of their own son. As Ronald is tried in court, the lives of everyone involved pause, as they put everything on the line.
DIRECTOR: Chito Roño
CAST: Gretchen Barretto | Richard Gomez | John Lloyd Cruz | Jessy Mendiola | Sylvia Sanchez | Enrique Gil | Isay Alvarez | Benjamin Alves | Nico Antonio | Gee Canlas | Mon Confiado | Vincent de Jesus | Lui Manansala | Maricar Reyes | Vivian Velez | Joy Viado
“The Trial” regards the Filipino movie-going public as intelligent. It presents a highly complex story, but also makes it accessible.
The film’s imperfect hero, Ronald (John Lloyd Cruz), is at the center of very difficult circumstances. He gets involved in a scandal and is about to be tried in court. As more and more people around him are dragged into the situation, he gets confused and becomes mistrusting of people’s motivations. Ronald’s difficulties make his parents, played by Sylvia Sanchez and Vince De Jesus, question their parenting skills and whether society is really ready to accept them as part of the norm.
On Ronald’s side in the legal battle is a grieving couple (Gretchen Baretto and Richard Gomez), who are about to mark their son’s first death anniversary. They see Ronald’s case as a way to find closure and fix a marriage that is also falling apart. From across the courtroom is Bessie (Jessy Mendiola), the complainant, who is set to change one person’s life forever and in the process, change her own.
A great original story from drama maestro Ricky Lee is the prime driver of The Trial; while the screenplay of Enrico Santos and Kriz Gazmen helped it gather steam in developing the characters and exploring many layers of emotion.
But The Trial is really an ensemble achievement. Sanchez is perfect as as Ronald’s biological mother and father figure, De Jesus is irresistible as Ronald’s biological father and mother of the house. He provides calculated comic relief that will make you laugh and cry at the same time. Barreto is effective and surprisingly subtle in the role of a grieving mother. The rest of the cast contribute to a strong performance across the board: Jessy Mendiola, Richard Gomez, Enrique Gil, Vivian Velez, and Isay Alvarez.
The movie’s subdued texture matches the tone of its story. Direk Chito Roño takes full advantage of this, and shifts to bright colors for flashbacks. The flashbacks are important to the story and clever editing allows us to see how the past connects to the present.
The film can do away with the distracting musical score. On the right hands, silence can be more powerful. The film could also have had a stronger opening and closing, given the already versatile writing of Santos and Gazmen. Instead we get the usual formula of closeups with voice over, a trick we’ve already seen too many times in Star Cinema movies this year.
Overall however, “The Trial” is a great movie. When a studio produces a movie that puts together a great script, an able technical team, and an enviable acting ensemble, you can’t help but hope that all that investment and talent don’t go to waste. Thankfully, “The Trial” delivers many times over.
The title is very apt on many levels. We are brought to the courtroom, where justice is expected to be served. But even in court, right and wrong is not a simple dichotomy. Our motivations and biases define our “truth.” As an audience, we are being tried, too: Do we have our own biases against the gay community and unconventional families? Do we have motivations that sometimes drive us to put other people at a disadvantage? Even in the guise of service to other people, do we really do things for our own sake?
As great stories often do, “The Trial” brings the audience to a head with more questions than answers—and just for that, it already acquitted itself splendidly. ♦