Tanging Ina: recent hit Filipino film considered (Part 1)

Wenn V. Deramas' "Tanging Ina" is a surprisingly supple, surprisingly well-made, comedy that turns on the acting and comedy talents of the decidedly unglamorous Ai-Ai de Las Alas. Ai-Ai is an odd combination: generous bosom and glamour-girl legs attached to cartoon face and horsey jaw; you can see why men would find her attractive enough to make their wife, the same time God would find her funny-looking enough to act as butt to some of his less kindly jokes.


The first twenty minutes are the film's high point. Deramas uses the standard tropes of Filipino comedy: speeded-up slapstick, absurdist imagery, semaphoring silent acting; what distinguishes her use of these devices from the usual Filipino comedy director's is that it's all in the service of creating a genuinely complex and fairly original comic character: the mother as hapless creature of fate, doing her best to keep her sizable chin above the water as she marries one husband after another, is widowed in a number of rather ingenious ways (one drops dead from a heart attack; another falls from the balcony of a movie theater during a stampede; yet another is electrocuted at their wedding reception), each leaving her with a number of children.

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