A Review of Star Cinema’s “anak”

One of the most compelling stories here on Earth is the love of a mother to her child. Whether it may be in songs, paintings or sculptures, this subject really touches each and every person’s heart. With this, films or movies are no exception. Almost all films, if one may notice, particularly Filipino films, have that element that showcases how a mother gives infinite affection to her children. Well, a perfect example of this would be the movie “Anak.”

Anak” is a Filipino film produced by Star Cinema and was directed by Rory B. Quintos. This motion picture was topbilled by Vilma Santos and Claudine Barretto last 2000. It tells about a story of a woman struggling to make a better life for her family and finds that her efforts have caused rift between her and her children. This downbeat drama is actually a portrayal of Freddie Aguilar’s famous song of the same title.

Josie (Vilma Santos) is a mother of three from the Philippines who took a job in Hong Kong, working as a nanny for a wealthy couple for several years. Josie knew she could make far more money in Hong Kong than she could at home. When Josie returns home, she has gifts for everyone and has saved a large percentage of her salary to start a business; but her children don’t welcome her with open arms. The younger kids, Daday (Sheila Mae Alvero) and Michael (Baron Geisler), are guarded around Josie, and while in time they are able to mend their relationship with their mother, the oldest, Carla (Claudine Barretto) does nothing to disguise her resentment for what she sees as a heartless abandonment of her family. Carla openly challenges Josie’s authority, starts dating boys, flaunts her sexuality and begins using drugs.

Anak,” which runs 120 minutes, has scenes in different places, particularly in Hong Kong and Philippines that brought about the true picture of what, where and when the story is happening. They used their space to the maximum and have been able to present to the viewers the true backgrounds of the story. The first scene was showing Josie in her last days in Hong Kong. At hits moment, the movie made use of story-telling, bringing out the evident excitement in Josie’s voice. It was then when she arrived in her house that a particular Filipino family gathering was shown. The natural noise of chit-chatting and the picture of a small house filled with numerous people created that particular atmosphere every Filipino can relate – someone arrived, thus, lots of food and lots of stories to tell. As the movie progresses, it was very noticeable that it employs many flashback scenes where we learn the reason behind why Josie went to Hong Kong and we also learned the detailed life of Josie there. This I think was an effective way of building up the story and the story’s hierarchy of emotions since the film’s conflict is slowly unveiling itself as Carla remembers the things that happened in her life and family while her mother was away. Lastly, the realistic fight between a mother and a child (pointing out that of the climactic fight) was also depicted. How each of them strives for respect came up front in the middle of the story until the end.

As far as music is concerned, every scene where Josie finds herself alone with her children was aided by a sad song. It was the slow melody of the song that relates the sad emotions Josie was keeping inside her. Also, in every scene where Carla is shown doing rebellious things, rock music was played. It was to show the generation of today from that of yesterday and somehow shows the personality of Carla. One worthy song used in the movie was Hotdog’s “Manila” sang by Josie and her friends in a comedy bar. This song related how Filipino overseas workers missed their country so much, Manila in particular. The upbeat tempo of this song also expresses the happiness and excitement of the one singing it and was very appropriate for the film and for the characters. The song “Bato sa Buhangin” which was the love theme of Josie and her husband Rudy (Joel Torre) was a bit mixed joy and sorrow. Somehow portraying their love life, this song basically emphasizes that people’s feelings are so hard to understand yet true love, no matter what, will last and will conquer all. Inasmuch as the title is concerned, the powerful blow and entrance of the song’s melody when Carla cried in front of Josie asking for forgiveness was truly magnificent. It was like just when the story was on its climax, the true theme came out to flow with the tears both the mother and child are sharing.

If this movie is to be judged by the amount of tears shed by various actors during the performance and the amount of tears which are expected to be shed by the audience, then I think this film can be rated in the five gallons category rather than that of the five stars. Vilma Santos, as expected, effectively portrayed a role of a mother trying to reach out to her children who at first sees her as a stranger. The efforts and the hardships she acted relate the whole theme of the film. Claudine Barretto, on the other hand, though equipped with natural acting prowess, was not that believable and was disgusting at some moments. In particular, I would like to single out the performance of Baron Geisler. He didn’t have a whole lot lines in the movie but the impact of his facial expressions and body language were very powerful.

As what said a while ago, this film was an inspired picture from Aguilar’s “Anak.” Every single line of the song pertains to the story of Josie and her children. The happiness and sacrifices of parents when their child is born were both seen as Josie showed the same feeling for her children upon seeing them as well as the sufferings she experienced in Hong Kong in order to give her family enough money for living. The line “Nagdaan pa ang mga araw at ang landas mo’y naligaw, ikaw ay nalulong sa masamng bisyo,” was also illustrated as Carla gets involve in men, sex and drugs and showing her mother her hatred for her. But all stories that end well, Carla repented and asked for forgiveness and vice-versa. This scene was literally the portrayal of the line “At and iyong mata’y biglang lumuha ng ‘di mo napapansin. Nagsisisi at sa isip mo’y nalaman mong ika’y nagkamali.”

After watching the film, I realized how important a mother is to me and to every person. How saying “I love you” to her is just a little way of saying “thank you” for all she had done for me. They are the most important people in the world and therefore be treated with affection and utmost respect. Her sacrifices are eternal and should not be questioned only for narrow-minded reasons. How a mother love her child is the most heavenly deed on Earth as what Mother Mary has shown to us.

A mother is not a perfect person. She struggles for happiness and only thinks of her family’s wellness. But indeed, as a normal person is, she commits mistakes which I think are mistakes for a reason and has a reason. A child, conversely, pampered with a mother’s love, is obliged to love and respect his/her mother (parents in general) as a little return of what they have given you. It is the child who supports the mother and must therefore act as the one understanding his/her mother’s sacrifices.

The film, for me, showed the vast horizon a mother would conquer in order to show her love and affection to her child. It was then that I happen to realize again my mistakes as a child. This story only tells us that no matter what happens, your friends may leave and dessert you, but your family, especially your mother, will always stay right beside you.