I’ve got faith in Soxy Topacio. Always have. Especially after that wonderful comedy that was Ded Na Si Lolo (2009) that could only rock the world of anyone who follows local movies – local comedies in particular. Topacio brilliantly captured the tragicomedy that is death and the family in a lower class setting without making it seem like a judgment, or an apologia for that matter.
Ah, but maybe that was a movie that was by most counts about being an indie, those were the days when Soxy as writer-director could freely demand that his story be told without the limits of network stars and box office success. Such is the tale of his recent comedy Adventures of Pureza, Queen of the Riles (Star Cinema) where Melai Cantiveros is obviously the point, and everything else in the movie is allowed to suffer. Which is to say that the story suffered. Where it could’ve been a swift narration of what’s expected, it became a series of events that wanted to tie together the character of Pureza. And yet there was nothing in Melai as an actress that made this wholeness relevant or crucial, nothing at all that made it seem like it was needed. In fact, given the acting she did here an audience would’ve been happy enough with no resolutions to her persona, and she could’ve moved from beginning to end playing mostly herself: loud and crazy, over-the-top silly, no stretch in characterization at all.
Given these limitations in a lead actress, the decision it seems was to work with everyone – and everything – else other than Melai. This might be why over and above veteran actress Gina Pareño whose tongue-in-cheek kontrabida character just worked as expected , there was some really good acting here, the kind that knew to be ironic, to be absurd, that was conscious of the story as comedy, that knew of the story’s limitations given its genre.