The unfulfilled promise of Ronda's good material

11:41 AM

The film opened with a patrol car traversing through the streets of Manila. Why not? The movie is named Ronda

We have the same scene for about 12 to 15 minutes. Credits were being flashed and four-fifths of the screen was occupied by the police vehicle. There is nothing to view around it but a suggestion of how the saddest intersections of Manila City's highway would look like at night; dark, dirty, wet, scary.

ronda cinemalaya review

When you finally see Ai Ai delas Alas, you'll be thinking that we're going somewhere. But that would not be the last time that you'll watch the same sequence. You'll see it again in the middle of the movie and then again when it is about to end. I'm with you when you say that Ronda's poster made you anticipate something. After watching it, I felt shortchanged. Ronda had a powerful concept only that it didn't have a concrete blueprint on how it should have been executed. 

The warmth that delas Alas is channeling every time we see her on stage or on TV was absent on her Cinemalaya debut. Not just because her character was meant to be indifferent but because you'll know she was not given a chance to maximize her artistry. She plays a police officer who is looking for her son who she didn't see for 2 days. Her husband (Mon Confiado) is working overseas. She had some loyalty issues to their marriage but the story's main conflict was about the son (Julian Trono) who murdered his schoolmate because of jealousy. 

It was journey of a police's life on a graveyard shift. She chased a thief, advised a homeless girl to wear clothes, brought a gay pimp to the police station and had to rely on patience for her ill-performing roving partner (Carlos Morales). Those were nice scenes, wonderfully choreographed and portrayed in fact, but were disconnected from the main subject of the movie. It felt like a soap opera, where Ai Ai's graveyard plight is book 1 and her matters with the son are in book 2. 

Carlo Aquino had a shining moment with delas Alas inside the patrol car. Their short conversation is among the very few highlights of the film. DM Sevilla's topless meet-up with Ai Ai is the only hint that her son is gay and that the murder in the latter part of the movie was about homosexual resentment. Cesar Montano, meanwhile, is on a special appearance, playing delas Alas's lover. Did he provide any help to the film? The love scene roused attention but Montano's addition is like eating ice cream where you put black chocolate sprinkles. Then you found it boring and added brown. 

For what it's worth, Ronda redefined how we look at our police officers. It gave us hope that there are still some, despite of gender and the worries of their personal lives, are still doing their job with efficiency and integrity. It's also about finding strength to be faithful to what's right even if you're too troubled to make a step and the choice involves hurting a person you care about. 

Delas Alas was supposed to be dazzling. We saw her dramatic skills in several TV shows and she proved herself numerous times over. But she needs to pick a more worthy material. Or in this case, an assurance of timing and a beautiful execution of a promising material. 

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