CANNES 57 - The poverty of the Philippines and the return of the manga
Simone Emiliani, Sentieri Selvaggi
"The strange modernity of Mamoru Oshii's "Innocence" and the neorealist love and misery in Filipino filmmaker Mario O'Hara's "Babae sa Breakwater" (Woman of the Breakwater)."
(excerpt from the article)
The surprise of the festival comes from the Director's Fortnight, Mario O'Hara's "Babae sa Breakwater" (Woman of the Breakwater). The film follows Basilio and his brother, who come to Manila looking for a better life. Basilio meets Paquita, a girl forced at a young age into prostitution; she in turn is being threatened by a gang boss, a former policeman who had been crippled by a bullet wound, and is reduced to terrorizing the breakwater area. A Neorealist look at poverty in the Philippines (41% of the population lives below subsistence level), where people carry on their faces the signs of disease (the sores on Paquita's skin) and hunger, it 's a hard film full of cruelty and no concession to hope that echoes Bunuel's Mexican films (particularly "Los Olvidados"); it also has a (Cesare) Zavattinilike flavor in its presentation of the different characters who haunt the strip of beach. O'Hara suggests the vitalizing strength of the element water in his repeated use of the image (not just the water of the sea, but also the water of one's birth), and inserts songs in the narrative that relieve the tension, a device that evokes not just opera but also some kind of hybrid form of the musical comedy and the fable.